Washington Post – Anne Gearan & Karoun Demirkian / NATO chief addresses Congress but appeals to Trump in anniversary speech
- Addressing a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives to commemorate NATO’s founding in Washington 70 years ago this week, Stoltenberg aimed at answering President Trump’s skepticism and occasional hostility toward the alliance, while being grateful to the President too. The NATO chief thanked the USA for building and maintaining an alliance that grew from 12 members to 29.
- Stoltenberg also criticized growing discomfort among members’ pacifism, stating that “peaceful protest” as well as “dialogue” could not stop Hitler, Stalin and the Islamic State. “We must invest and act”.
- Nonetheless, Trump did not change his views on the alliance and stated last Tuesday:” The United States alone accounts for the vast majority of NATO defense spending and we really cannot rely on one nation to defend all.”
- During NATO Secretary General’s speech at the Congress, neither President Trump nor Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, were present. On the other hand. The Vice President Pence attended the occasion.
- The sultanate of Brunei introduced harsh new sharia laws that include the death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, in spite of global outrage.
- These laws include amputation of hands and feet for thieves, which will make Brunei the first place in East or Southeast Asia to have a sharia penal code at the national level. The small nation joins Middle Eastern countries as Saudi Arabia.
- Moreover, rape and robbery, as well as insulting Prophet Mohammed will be also punished by death penalty. Many of the new laws apply to non-Muslims as well as Muslims.
- The United Nations has reacted against the sultan’s decision and has stated that these laws are considered a “clear violation” of human rights. The European Union said that some of the new punishments “amount to torture, acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”. They are especially dangerous for Brunei’s LGBT community, although sex between men was already illegal and punished with up to 10 years in jail.
The Guardian – Heather Stewart / Corbyn and May agree to more talks after ‘constructive’ first day
- Jeremy Corbin will continue talks over Brexit with Theresa May on Thursday, after Labour tensions over second referendum erupted, with shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry insisting that any agreement should be put to a public vote.
- Labour and Downing Street defined the discussions as “constructive”. A Labour spokesman declared that “We have had constructive exploratory discussions about how to break the Brexit deadlock”.
- Labour MPs are pressuring Mr. Corbyn to submit any agreement to a public vote, to which he seems to have agreed, but falls short to Thronberry’s request. After a meeting with May, he tweeted “In my meeting with Theresa May I put forward Labour’s alternative plan and raised the option of a public vote to prevent No Deal or leaving on a bad deal.”
- If May cannot secure Labour’s backing for a compromise deal, she is hoping to win Corbyn’s sign-up for a binding process in the Commons to decide the form of Brexit that is acceptable to both parties.
South China Morning Post – Wendy Wu & Nectar Gan / China’s Vice-Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer start ‘endgame’ round of trade talks in Washington
- Both China and the USA have started a fresh round of talks on Wednesday amid hopes of finalizing an agreement to end their trade war. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He was greeted by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer outside the USTR office on Wednesday morning.
- For the first time, China acknowledged issues on intellectual property thefts, cyber hacking and forced technology transfer, largely accused by the US but denied by China previously. Larry Kudlow, White House economic adviser stated that: “They have for the first time acknowledged that we have a point. Several points”.
- Myron Brilliant, executive vice-president for international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, stated that negotiations had now entered the “endgame stage”. He concluded that “ninety per cent of the deal is done”. A source declared that China made concessions that were previously out of the table, and that it was pushing for a summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump to sign this deal during this month.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.