Merkel Urges Europe to Step Up in Trump’s New World Order

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Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party leader, speaks at the CDU party conference in Essen, Germany (Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg)

 

(Bloomberg) — Chancellor Angela Merkel made a forceful pitch for Europe to play a more assertive role in global affairs as U.S. President Donald Trump dismantles the post-World War II order, setting the stage for a potential tense standoff at the Group of Seven summit this week.

The German leader again questioned the durability of trans-Atlantic relations by referring to eye-raising comments she made over a year ago in which she said that “the times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over.” Those words, spoken at a beer-tent election rally, were a reaction to Trump hectoring European leaders for not spending enough on defense at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Brussels. Since then, more fuel has been added to the fire.

“That was my takeaway from the NATO summit, and in the meantime I continue to feel confirmed by my statement,” Merkel said in Munich on Wednesday, this time to a meeting of the European People’s Party, a grouping of center-right parties in the European Parliament.

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Pompeo meets secretly with North Korean leader

US Secretary of State-designate made a top-secret visit to North Korea over Easter weekend to meet with its leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump has confirmed. His mission was to lay the groundwork for his future summit with Kim.  Speaking at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday, Trump appeared to allude to Pompeo’s secret mission when he said that the US has had “direct talks” with North Korea “at very high levels.” The president didn’t elaborate, but he did mention June as the possible timeline for his summit with the North Korean leader, rather than May as first cited. Continue reading

EU chief says ‘time is running out for Greece’

Kruen, Germany: The European Union’s exasperation with Greece burst into the open on Sunday when its chief executive rebuked leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and warned that time was running out to conclude a debt deal to avert a damaging Greek default.

In unusually sharp terms, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker accused Mr Tsipras of distorting proposals by international creditors for a cash-for-reform agreement and of dragging his feet in offering an alternative.

He urged Athens to put its own ideas on the table swiftly to enable talks to resume on the sidelines of an EU-Latin America summit on Wednesday in Brussels. Continue reading

Vladimir Putin vows that United States ‘will never subjugate Russia’

Russian president echoes Al Capone as he says ‘weapons and politeness’ are better than ‘politeness alone’

Vladimir Putin issued a defiant message to the West on Tuesday, accusing the United States of trying to “subjugate” Russia while promising it would never succeed.

The Russian president also appeared to channel Al Capone, the Chicago mobster, when he joked that “weapons and politeness” were more effective than “politeness alone”.

Meeting supporters at a forum in Moscow, Mr Putin corrected another speaker who said that the United States wanted to humiliate Russia.

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David Cameron warns that second global crash is looming

PM says ‘red warning lights are flashing’ against a backdrop of instability and uncertainty, as G20 summit draws to a close

David Cameron has issued a stark message that “red warning lights are flashing on the dashboard of the global economy” in the same way as when the financial crash brought the world to its knees six years ago.

Writing in the Guardian at the close of the G20 summit in Brisbane, Cameron says there is now “a dangerous backdrop of instability and uncertainty” that presents a real risk to the UK recovery, adding that the eurozone slowdown is already having an impact on British exports and manufacturing. Continue reading

Ukraine’s Risky Bet

MOSCOW — Ukraine is leaving Russia for Europe. That’s what many observers see as the likely consequence of the Association Agreement that Ukraine and the European Union are expected to sign at a summit meeting in Vilnius at the end of this month. But those who expect Ukraine to embark on a fast transformation should not be complacent. Bitter disputes persist within the Ukraine-E.U.-Russia triangle, complicated conflicts that are about selfish interests, not universal values.

Vladimir Putin may say that opening borders to European goods and services under the Association Agreement’s free-trade pact is Ukraine’s sovereign choice. But Russia’s president is a master at dissembling: He is widely believed to have promised his Ukrainian counterpart, Viktor Yanukovich, to inflict a lot of pain if the Association Agreement is signed. Continue reading

Ahmadinejad wants to go to Gaza, pray in Jerusalem ‘after liberation’

In layman’s terms, his definition of complete liberation means complete annihilation.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is due to take part in a summit in Egypt this week, expressed his desire on Monday to visit the neighboring Gaza Strip.

Asked in an interview on the Al-Mayadeen news channel whether he would visit Gaza while in Cairo next week or before his term as president expires in June, he replied: “My wish is bigger than this. I wish to pray in Jerusalem after complete liberation.” Continue reading

Putin to visit Brussels as ‘Eurasian Union’ leader

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the EU-Russia summit in Brussels later this month. But he will make sure his hosts welcome him as the representative of the Eurasian Union – Putin’s pet geopolitical project, which bears similarities to the EU.

The summit is the second to take place this year, after a first summit in St. Petersburg in June where Putin listed conditions for signing a new basic treaty between Russia and the EU.

Putin said he would not advance negotiations unless the EU formalised relations with the so-called Common Economic Space involving Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (see background). The three countries have also forged a customs union. Continue reading