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US says chemical arms inspectors still have not entered site of Syrian attack

by admin   |   Posted on Wednesday, 18 April 2018 11:26 AM

A boy walks along a damaged street at the city of Douma in Damascus, Syria, April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

The United States believes inspectors from a global chemical weapons watchdog have not yet been able to enter the site of the April 7 alleged chemical weapons attack on the Syrian town of Douma.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday she was aware of reports from Syria that inspectors from the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons had been able to see the site but the team has not entered Douma.

She said the United States had information that both chlorine and sarin nerve gas were used in the attack and was concerned that evidence was deteriorating the longer inspectors were kept from reaching the site.

“The longer that it takes to get OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) inspectors in to take a look at soil samples and other information that they can get on the ground, that delay further degrades any evidence that’s on the ground. So that is our chief concern,” Nauert said. — Reuters

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US’ assurance of aid is nothing new, expert says

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, 4 March 2019 05:00 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte meets United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City. | Photo credits: MPC POOL

The United States has always assured the Philippines of aid amid sea dispute with China, according to defense expert and Institute for Policy, Strategy, and Development Studies member, Jose Antonio Custodio.

Custodio said there is nothing new with this statement because even previous American officials have said it before.

“Kung ano iyong sinabi ni [Mike] Pompeo, it’s what exactly mentioned also by earlier American officials, Thomas Hubbard to be exact,” he said.

(Whatever Pompeo said, it’s what exactly mentioned also by earlier American officials, Thomas Hubbard to be exact.)

He also said that it would be better for the Philippines to strengthen their own capabilities in defending its territory.

Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte said it might be difficult for the United States to provide assistance to the country if there will be an attack in the West Philippine Sea.

“Sabi ko, okay man sinabi ni Mattis sa akin: ‘We guarantee you na nandiyan kami sa likod.’ Pero ang problema nito, iyong i-invoke niya iyong Defense US Treaty which was entered into by us, by our — mga ninuno natin. Ang attack sa America or ang attack sa atin pareho. But sa America, magdaan pa ng Congress. Any declaration of war will pass Congress,” Duterte said during his speech in Zamboanga City last Sunday.

(I said, what Mattis said was okay: ‘We guarantee, we have your back’. But the problem is, he invoked the Defense US Treaty which was entered into us by our ancestors. The attack on America or attack against us is the same but in America, it will go through Congress. Any declaration of war will pass Congress.)

Malacañang had previously said that the seven-decade-old treaty need amendments.

“There may be some kinks in the treaty that need to be clarified. It’s much better perhaps that it’s clear-cut in the treaty itself so I think there’s still a need to review despite the policy statement,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during a press briefing.

However, for Custodio, there is no need to amend the treaty because “the treaty itself is good enough message that if China attacks us, then they will have to face the US.”

The Mutual Defense Treaty was signed in Washington on August 30, 1951 and it aims to further strengthen the collective defense of the Philippine and the US.

Based on the treaty it desires “for the preservation of peace and security pending the development of a more comprehensive system of regional security in the Pacific area.” —Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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Trump returns to White House after summit collapse clouds future of U.S.-North Korea nuclear diplomacy

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, 1 March 2019 12:45 PM

President Trump returns to White House on Thursday (February 28) following his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam. | Reuters

(REUTERS) — U.S. President Donald Trump returned to Washington D.C. Thursday (February 28) from Hanoi, Vietnam after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed over sanctions, and the two sides gave conflicting accounts of what happened, raising questions about the future of their denuclearisation negotiations.

Trump said two days of talks in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi had made good progress in building relations and on the main issue of denuclearisation, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal. He said he had walked away because of unacceptable North Korean demands.

“It was all about the sanctions,” Trump told a news conference after the talks were cut short. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”

However, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a news conference past midnight and hours after Trump left Hanoi that North Korea had sought only a partial lifting of sanctions “related to people’s livelihoods and unrelated to military sanctions”.

He said it had offered a realistic proposal involving the dismantling of all of its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, including plutonium and uranium facilities, by engineers from both countries.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told the same briefing she had the impression that Kim “might lose his willingness to pursue a deal” after the U.S. side rejected a partial lifting of sanctions in return for destruction of Yongbyon, “something we had never offered before”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, asked about North Korea’s statements, said the president was aware of the comments and the White House had nothing to add to what Trump said at the Hanoi news conference.

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British teenager who travelled to Syria to join IS wants to ‘come home’ – The Times

by admin   |   Posted on Friday, 15 February 2019 09:52 AM


Shamima Begum on February 17, 2015 in London, England | MET Police Handout via Reuters

 A British teenager who travelled from London to Syria to join Islamic State militants, said she wants to “come home to Britain”, The Times newspaper reported Wednesday (February 13).

In an interview, 19-year-old Shamima Begum described how she became the bride of a Dutch IS fighter 10 days after her arrival in Raqqa, the former capital of the militant group’s self-declared caliphate.

Having lost two children to illness, Begum who is pregnant said she fled fighting in eastern Syria roughly two weeks ago to keep her unborn baby safe.

Begum flew to Turkey in February 2015, with fellow students Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, en route to Syria.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which holds about a quarter of the country, has mounted an attack with the help of U.S. airstrikes to seize Baghouz, Islamic State’s last bastion in eastern Syria.

They believe 400 to 600 militants remain holed up in the enclave, including many hardened foreigners and some emirs. Its spokesman said in January that most of the civilians still there were the wives and children of the militants. — Reuters

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