web analytics
a

Facebook

Twitter

Copyright 2015 Libero Themes.
All Rights Reserved.

8:30 - 6:00

Our Office Hours Mon. - Fri.

703-406-7616

Call For Free 15/M Consultation

Facebook

Twitter

Search
Menu
Westlake Legal Group > United States International Relations (Page 14)

Climate Summit Opens; Teenage Activist Attacks ‘Business as Usual’

UNITED NATIONS — China on Monday made no new promises to take stronger climate action. The United States, having vowed to pull out of the Paris agreement, said nothing at all, demonstrating a lack of leadership from the biggest polluter in history. A host of presidents and prime ministers used the occasion to boast about what they were doing to reduce emissions but made incremental promises at best.

That was the scene at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, which the secretary general, António Guterres, had organized to highlight what he called “concrete” commitments to wean the global economy away from planet-warming fossil fuels and do more to help the most vulnerable cope with the effects of global warming.

There were, in fact, some concrete commitments. Some 60 countries promised to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and several asset fund managers said they would aim to get to a net-zero portfolio of investments by the same year.

But what really silenced the General Assembly hall was when the Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, early in the day, lit into world leaders for their “business as usual” approach to a problem so grave. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” she said, her voice quavering with rage. “If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

Rarely does anyone speak in this way at the world body. A bit later in the day, Ms. Thunberg watched with a look of fury in her eyes, as Mr. Trump passed through a hall, a video clip posted on Twitter showed.

President Trump unexpectedly dropped into the General Assembly hall with Vice President Mike Pence late morning. Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, welcomed Mr. Trump’s presence and addressed the president directly by saying, “Hopefully our discussions here will be useful for you when you formulate climate policy.”

That was followed by laughter and applause. It signaled a sharp contrast from just a few years ago, when the United States had been credited with pushing other countries, including China, to take climate change seriously. The United States is not on track to meet its pledges under the Paris climate agreement, and the Trump administration has rolled back a host of environmental regulations, from automobile tailpipes, coal plants and oil and gas wells.

The Trump administration did not request a speaking slot at the summit.

As for China, it did not signal its readiness to issue stronger, swifter targets to transition away from fossil fuels, as many had hoped. Wang Yi, a special representative for President Xi Jinping, noted that his country was keeping the promises it made under the 2015 Paris agreement and that “certain countries” — a clear reference to the United States, which has said it intends to withdraw — were not.

“China will faithfully fulfill its obligations,” Mr. Wang said.

President Emmanuel Macron of France also had a message for the United States, telling the assembly “I don’t want to see new trade negotiations with countries who are running counter to the Paris Agreement.”

The statement could create a new stumbling block to trade agreements between the United States and Europe, which are already plagued by deep differences over agriculture, the rules of the global trading system, and Mr. Trump’s potential tariffs on cars.

China’s decision to not signal higher ambition reflects, in part, concerns about its own slowing economy against the backdrop of conflicts with the United States on trade. It also reflected Beijing’s reluctance to take stronger climate action in the absence of similar moves from richer countries. The European Union hasn’t signaled its intention to cut emissions faster either, and the United States is nowhere on track to meet its original commitments under the Paris accord.

“There’s no particular reason why China should do anything new now, because they’re not getting any pressure from the United States and they’re on track to achieve their commitments,” said Kelly Sims Gallagher, professor of energy and environmental policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

“This extends the limbo while the rest of the world waits to see what the United States is going to be doing in 2020,” she said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India said his country would increase its share of renewable energy by 2022, without making any promises to reduce its dependence on coal. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany promoted a new plan worth $60 billion over 10 years to speed a transition to clean power.

Russia announced that it would ratify the Paris agreement, but nothing more about how to cut emissions from its sprawling state-owned petroleum industry.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 23CLI-SUMMIT2-video-videoSixteenByNine3000-v2 Climate Summit Opens; Teenage Activist Attacks ‘Business as Usual’ United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Assembly (UN) environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots

Speaking at the United Nations climate summit, the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg delivered a forceful speech criticizing world leaders for their inaction on protecting the environment.CreditCreditCarlo Allegri/Reuters

The summit unfolded against the backdrop of new data that showed the quickening pace of warming.

The world is getting hotter, faster, the World Meteorological Organization concluded in its latest report Sunday, with the five-year period between 2014 and 2019 the warmest on record. Emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming when it is pumped into the atmosphere, are at all time highs. The seas are rising rapidly. The average global temperature is 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than what it was in the mid-19th century, and at the current pace, average global temperatures will be 3 degrees Celsius higher by the end of the century.

“I will not be there, but my granddaughters will, and your grandchildren, too,” the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, said in his opening remarks. “I refuse to be an accomplice in the destruction of their one and only home.”

Who’s Speaking at the U.N. Climate Summit? Several Champions of Coal

Sept. 22, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_157123887_26236ce7-647b-4113-a8f9-a0904c48f8cc-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Climate Summit Opens; Teenage Activist Attacks ‘Business as Usual’ United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Assembly (UN) environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots
Climate Protesters and World Leaders: Same Planet, Different Worlds

Sept. 21, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160982445_2bbb697d-f88b-44b6-8d1c-d9aac2f1bfe1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Climate Summit Opens; Teenage Activist Attacks ‘Business as Usual’ United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Assembly (UN) environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots
Protesting Climate Change, Young People Take to Streets in a Global Strike

Sept. 20, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 20cli-protests-slide-XMBG-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Climate Summit Opens; Teenage Activist Attacks ‘Business as Usual’ United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Assembly (UN) environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots

Mr. Guterres’s most direct call went to those countries that use money from their taxpayers to subsidize fossil fuel projects that, as he put it, “boost hurricanes, spread tropical diseases and heighten conflict.”

“We are in a deep climate hole. To get out, we must first stop digging,” he said. “Is it common sense to build ever more coal plants that are choking our future? Is it common sense to reward pollution that kills millions with dirty air and makes it dangerous for people in cities around the world to sometimes even venture out of their homes?”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 23CLI-SUMMIT3-articleLarge Climate Summit Opens; Teenage Activist Attacks ‘Business as Usual’ United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Assembly (UN) environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots

A video presentation during opening ceremonies.CreditLucas Jackson/Reuters

According to the United Nations Environment Program, the world’s 20 largest economies, which account for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, “are not yet taking on transformative climate commitments at the necessary breadth and scale.”

Scientists and policymakers have said that even holding warming to a less-dangerous 1.5 degrees would entail a significant transformation of the global energy system, costing trillions of dollars.

But the cost of doing nothing is also staggeringly high.

Studies show that if emissions continue to rise at their current pace, the number of people needing humanitarian aid as a result of natural disasters could double by 2050. And a sweeping report from 13 United States federal agencies last year warned that failing to rein in warming could shave 10 percent off the country’s economy by century’s end.

Protesters in New York City on Friday.CreditMark Abramson for The New York Times

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Defiant Over Allegations He Targeted a Rival via Ukraine

UNITED NATIONS — President Trump on Monday defended his efforts to urge the Ukrainian president to investigate a leading political rival for corruption, arguing that the United States should not give money to a government that tolerates it.

As he began several days of international diplomacy at the United Nations on Monday, Mr. Trump was defiant in the face of allegations that his conversation with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, in which he leveled unsubstantiated corruption charges against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, amounted to a grave abuse of presidential power.

Speaking to reporters at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Mr. Trump declined to address questions about whether he temporarily withheld $391 million in military aid to Kiev as part of an effort to push the government to comply with his demands for an investigation into Mr. Biden and his family. But Mr. Trump appeared to argue that such an action would not be inappropriate.

“If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?” he said.

On his way to lead a session on global religious freedom, Mr. Trump attempted to deflect attention from his own actions and tarnish Mr. Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace,” Mr. Trump said.

Between events at the United Nations complex, Mr. Trump also tweeted an attack against his accusers as “stone cold Crooked.” And he implied that an unnamed intelligence community whistle-blower who filed a secret complaint about his behavior, based in part on his dealings with Ukraine, might be a traitor: “Is he on our Country’s side,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Where does he come from.”

The identity of that whistle-blower, whom Mr. Trump last week accused of being “partisan,” is not publicly known. The acting director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is refusing to share the person’s complaint with Congress, as required by law, prompting a growing number of Democrats to consider calling for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Mr. Trump also alleged to reporters here, without offering proof, that Hunter Biden, an international business consultant during his father’s time in office, “took money” from China, and suggested that the former vice president would strike a softer line toward Beijing as a result. China, Mr. Trump said, “can think of nothing they’d rather see than Biden get in.”

There is no evidence that the younger Mr. Biden’s business dealings have had any effect on his father’s public policy positions. Mr. Trump has seized on Joe Biden’s insistence in 2016 that Ukraine fire its top prosecutor at a time when a Ukrainian company on whose board Hunter Biden said was suspected of criminal activity. But that prosecutor was widely seen as corrupt himself and was not pursuing an active case against the company, Burisma Holdings.

Trump, Biden and Ukraine: Sorting Out the Accusations

Sept. 22, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 22dc-bidenexplainer-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Trump Defiant Over Allegations He Targeted a Rival via Ukraine Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United Nations Burisma Holdings Ltd

Mr. Trump kicked off his diplomacy here in the morning with a brief visit to a special session on climate change attended by several major world leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. Mr. Trump, who had not been expected to attend at all, stayed for less than 15 minutes, and wrote on Twitter about the Ukraine scandal minutes after departing.

Mr. Trump then led another special session, on international religious freedom, at which he called upon “nations of the world to end religious persecution.”

“Stop the crimes against people of faith, release prisoners of conscience, repeal laws restricting freedom of religion and belief, protect the vulnerable,” Mr. Trump said. The administration said Monday that the Trump administration would “dedicate an additional $25 million to protect religious freedom and religious sites and relics.”

Mr. Trump was introduced at the event by Vice President Mike Pence, who said being at the session was “among the greatest honors I’ve ever had.” Mr. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both evangelical Christians, have emphasized the cause of religious freedom in American foreign policy, drawing criticism that they have favored Christians over other religious groups, including Muslims.

Mr. Trump met in the afternoon with the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. It was the first of many sit-downs Mr. Trump had scheduled with world leaders here — including with Mr. Zelensky, whom he will see Wednesday.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Leaders, at U.N. Climate Talks, Get Their Chance to Answer Youth Protests

UNITED NATIONS — Just days after angry youth protests demanding swift action to fight climate change, the United Nations climate summit opened Monday, where dozens of presidents, prime ministers and corporate executives will try to show that they are stepping up action to reduce planet-warming emissions.

No sooner had it begun than the teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, her voice quavering like it rarely does, lit into them, excoriating world leaders for their “business as usual” approach to bringing down greenhouse gas emissions at a time when temperatures are rising than ever before. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you,” she said, reading from prepared remarks. “If you choose to fail us, I say we will never forgive you.”

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, said his country would increase its share of renewable energy by 2022, without making any promises to reduce its dependence on coal. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany promoted a new plan worth $60 billion over 10 years to speed a transition to clean power. Britain, Norway, Costa Rica and 12 other countries will promise to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. By the end of the day, expect to see a signal of how much other countries are willing to do in the face of inaction by the United States, which is responsible for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial age.

Late morning, President Trump unexpectedly dropped into the General Assembly hall with Vice President Mike Pence.

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, welcomed Mr. Trump’s presence at the United Nations and drew applause when he addressed the president directly saying, “Hopefully our discussions here will be useful for you when you formulate climate policy”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161347056_9fbf3db9-3a7c-40b8-b930-1def3a23b451-articleLarge Leaders, at U.N. Climate Talks, Get Their Chance to Answer Youth Protests United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots

Greta Thunberg at the United Nations climate summit on Monday. CreditLudovic Marin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

And in this body of nations, some of the most notable pledges are expected to come from cities and private companies, including banks, large asset funds, and shipping firms. All eyes were on whether China, currently the world’s largest emitter of greenhouses gases, would signal higher ambition. A special representative of Chinese President Xi Jinping was scheduled to speak later in the morning.

The gap between the incremental promises being made in the hall and the dramatic effects of climate change could not be more stark.

The world is getting hotter, faster, the World Meteorological Organization concluded in its latest report Sunday, with the five-year period between 2014 and 2019 the warmest on record. Emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming when it is pumped into the atmosphere, are at all-time highs. The seas are rising rapidly. The average global temperature is 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than what it was in the mid-19th century, and at the current pace, average global temperatures will be 3 degrees Celsius higher by the end of the century.

“I will not be there, but my granddaughters will, and your grandchildren, too,” the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, told those assembled inside the General Assembly hall. “I refuse to be an accomplice in the destruction of their one and only home.”

Who’s Speaking at the U.N. Climate Summit? Several Champions of Coal

Sept. 22, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_157123887_26236ce7-647b-4113-a8f9-a0904c48f8cc-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Leaders, at U.N. Climate Talks, Get Their Chance to Answer Youth Protests United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots
Climate Protesters and World Leaders: Same Planet, Different Worlds

Sept. 21, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160982445_2bbb697d-f88b-44b6-8d1c-d9aac2f1bfe1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Leaders, at U.N. Climate Talks, Get Their Chance to Answer Youth Protests United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots
Protesting Climate Change, Young People Take to Streets in a Global Strike

Sept. 20, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 20cli-protests-slide-XMBG-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Leaders, at U.N. Climate Talks, Get Their Chance to Answer Youth Protests United States International Relations United Nations Politics and Government Guterres, Antonio Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Demonstrations, Protests and Riots

The president of Chile, Sebastian Pinera Echenique, said 30 countries have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The pledges are seen as critical to reinforcing the Paris Agreement, a pact among nations to jointly fight climate change, at a time when the United States government has said it will withdraw from the agreement and has all but abandoned the global effort to reduce greenhouse gases and help the world’s most vulnerable countries cope with the consequences of a warming world.

Mr. Guterres’ most direct call went to those countries that use money from their taxpayers to subsidize fossil fuel projects that, as he put it, “boost hurricanes, spread tropical diseases and heighten conflict.”

“We are in a deep climate hole. To get out, we must first stop digging,” he said. “Is it common sense to build ever more coal plants that are choking our future? Is it common sense to reward pollution that kills millions with dirty air and makes it dangerous for people in cities around the world to sometimes even venture out of their homes?”

President Trump was in New York on Monday, but did not plan to attend Monday’s summit. Instead, the administration sent a State Department official who did not request a speaking slot. The administration has rolled back efforts to cut emissions from automobile tailpipes, coal plants and oil and gas wells. Several United States governors were present and expected to announce stepped-up goals on reducing their own emissions.

Opening ceremonies at the summit.CreditLucas Jackson/Reuters

Other major emitters not speaking at the Monday summit are Australia, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Brazil. The Secretary General had said that only those who were ready to announce concrete new steps would be given speaking time.

Their absence underscored a growing global tension over the push to phase out coal, oil and gas.

Shinjiro Koizumi, the newly appointed environment minister of Japan, said in an interview Sunday that he intends to lead his country in cutting emissions of carbon dioxide. But asked what specific actions he would take on coal, Mr. Koizumi replied, “Reduce it.”

The pledges being delivered against the United Nation’s green marbled backdrop stood in sharp contrast to the anger that spilled onto the streets Friday, when masses of children and young people protested around the world demanding a swift pivot away from the world’s fossil fuel-based economy.

“Friday landed a big emotional punch,” said Rachel Kyte, a special representative on sustainable energy for the United Nations secretary general.

“From this summit, we need to ratchet up action and ambition and get to a point where every country has got a plan that makes sense and is consistent,” she said. “We’re not there yet.”

Scientists have warned that severe droughts, escalating wildfires and rising seas fueled by climate change threaten to tear apart ecosystems and economies, undermining decades of progress in global health and poverty reduction.

“Speeches don’t match the moment,” President Sauli Niinisto of Finland said. “If we all don’t do more, more people will suffer.”

Some analysts said they hoped Chinese leaders at the meeting would announce that their country’s emissions will peak earlier than they had pledged under the Paris Agreement, though others said that was unlikely. China today produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other country, but it is on track to meet the relatively modest goals it set for itself under the Paris climate agreement.

“China is going to do a really good job of saying all the right things but we will have a very difficult time identifying the actions that are going to support that,” said Taiya Smith, director of the China program for the Climate Leadership Council, a conservative group that has called for carbon-tax policies.

In part, she and others said, that’s a reflection of the overwhelming focus in China on trade relations with the United States, fears about China’s own slowing economy and the failure of the United States, the world’s biggest emitter in historical terms, to act or push other nations to do more under the current administration.

“It’s very unlikely that China will move unless it has to,” Ms. Smith said, adding that, with the United States effectively out of the picture, “All they have to do is show up and they’re the world leader.”

Yet without more ambitious efforts by the United States, China and other big countries to eliminate greenhouse gases, the average temperature globally is on track to rise a dangerous 3 degrees Celsius or more from preindustrial times. According to the United Nations Environment Program, the world’s 20 largest economies, which account for 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, “are not yet taking on transformative climate commitments at the necessary breadth and scale.”

Scientists and policymakers have said that even holding warming to a less-dangerous 1.5 degrees would entail a significant transformation of the global energy system, costing trillions of dollars.

But the cost of doing nothing is also staggeringly high.

Studies show that if emissions continue to rise at their current pace, the number of people needing humanitarian aid as a result of natural disasters could double by 2050. And a sweeping report from 13 United States federal agencies last year warned that failing to rein in warming could shave 10 percent off the country’s economy by century’s end.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Fact-Checking Trump’s Latest Claims About Space and Iran

Westlake Legal Group merlin_141658029_8cdfb47b-1c39-41a3-8bce-1e3d681c76e2-facebookJumbo Fact-Checking Trump’s Latest Claims About Space and Iran United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J National Aeronautics and Space Administration Iran

What Trump Said

If you look at our facilities, they were virtually closed up. There was crabgrass growing on the runways. And now they’re vital and we’re — we’re doing — we’re going to Mars. We’re stopping at the moon.

President Trump, like some of his predecessors, has retooled the government’s space program. But space exploration had not grinded to a halt before he took office in 2017. In fact, NASA for years has been aiming for a trip to Mars.

Casey Dreier of the Planetary Society, a nonprofit that promotes space exploration, said that the Trump administration “has been unusually attentive to space” but noted that it has “generally continued policies established over the past 15 years, and benefited from a rapidly maturing commercial space industry that has taken decades to develop.”

In 2004, President George W. Bush proposed a return to the moon as a springboard to Mars. President Barack Obama canceled that moon program in 2010, choosing to focus instead on reaching an asteroid and then Mars, while encouraging government financing of commercial spaceflight.

Mr. Trump has since scrapped the asteroid idea and refocused on the moon, eyeing a 2024 landing (however unlikely) as the interim step before reaching Mars. He also restored the National Space Council, “which has taken significant steps to propose updates to regulations around the commercial use of space and space traffic management,” Mr. Dreier said. And most recently, Mr. Trump authorized the creation of the United States Space Command, a precursor to the military Space Force he often champions.

Beyond these changes in mission, NASA has continued to operate and reach milestones.

During the Obama administration, the Curiosity Rover landed on Mars, the New Horizons spacecraft captured images of Pluto and the Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit.

While NASA’s annual budget is a fraction of what it was during the heyday of the space race, it has hovered between $16 billion and $21 billion for the past decade. Mr. Trump proposed cutting NASA’s funding in his budgets for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, though Congress ignored those suggestions.

What Trump Said

“Germany, France, Russia, many other countries made a lot of money with Iran. And we didn’t make money with Iran, which that was just one of the many bad parts about the deal.”

As part of the Iran nuclear deal, the United States and European nations lifted economic sanctions on the country in early 2016, after international inspectors concluded that it had followed through on promises to dismantle large sections of its nuclear program.

The deal also loosened barriers to international trade with Iran. Mr. Trump was likely referring to trade surpluses when he claimed that other countries had “made a lot of money with” the country. (Though, as The New York Times has explained, trade balances are not inherently good or bad.)

In 2016, the three countries listed by Mr. Trump all had trade surpluses in goods with Iran — $2.2 billion for Germany, $1.3 billion for Russia and $918 million for France, according to data from the United Nations.

The United States also ran a trade surplus in goods with Iran that year, but a much smaller one of $183 million. That disparity existed in large part because the United States lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran only as part of the agreement, leaving intact other economic restrictions related to terrorism, human rights and missile technology that were “much more extensive than those of other countries,” according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics. In addition, about two dozen states have their own punitive measures on commercial dealings with Iran, on top of federal policies.

Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018.

Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email factcheck@nytimes.com

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iran Says British Tanker Is Free to Go After 2 Months of Detention

Westlake Legal Group 19xp-tanker-facebookJumbo Iran Says British Tanker Is Free to Go After 2 Months of Detention United States International Relations Strait of Hormuz Iran

A British-flagged tanker that Iran seized in July is now free to leave, the Iranian government said on Monday, more than a month after British authorities released an Iranian tanker that had been detained off Gibraltar.

The news offered a rare hint of easing tensions, at a time when Iran has been in an escalating cycle of confrontation with its Persian Gulf neighbors and the United States.

Iran had accused the British-flagged tanker, the Stena Impero, of violating maritime regulations in the Strait of Hormuz, but the seizure on July 19 was widely seen as retaliation for the detention of the Iranian tanker.

The legal proceedings against the Stena Impero have concluded, and Iran has decided to waive alleged violations, an Iranian government spokesman, Ali Rabiyee, said at a news conference, according to Iranian and Western news agencies that were present.

The ship had not left the Bandar Abbas, a port in southern Iran, as of midday, and it was not clear how quickly it would set sail. Erik Hanell, chief executive of the tanker’s owner, the shipping company Stena Bulk, told SVT, a Swedish television station, that he hoped it would be a matter of hours.

Iran detained the 23-member crew along with the ship. It released seven of them earlier this month, but the others have remained with the vessel.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Year Later, Iran Finds Evaporating Sympathy at the U.N.

When Iran’s president and foreign minister arrived in New York a year ago for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, they were riding high. At news conferences and in television appearances, they cast President Trump as an untrustworthy deal-breaker, and European leaders largely sided with the pair in a desperate effort to preserve the 2015 nuclear agreement after the United States renounced it.

This year could not be more different.

Suddenly, President Hassan Rouhani and his witty, often biting American-educated foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, are on the defensive. They are denying any Iranian involvement in the destruction of two major Saudi oil facilities, an assertion that even former Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the nuclear accord four years ago and has become its biggest defender, finds far-fetched. Iran, he said, was behind the attack “one way or the other.”

Iran is now admitting how much damage the American-led sanctions have done to its economy — crashing the currency and turning a boomlet into a recession.

Mr. Zarif, while reserving most of his anger for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who he has called a “warmonger,” has now turned on the Europeans. After committing to preserving the nuclear deal by compensating for much of the revenue Iran was losing, the Europeans “have failed in every single one” of their specific commitments, he said in a meeting with reporters on Sunday.

“They think they need some green light from the U.S.,” said Mr. Zarif, suggesting that Britain, France and Germany had strung him along with promises that they had little intention of fulfilling if it meant further straining their testy relationship with the Trump administration.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_161307009_e66ae31a-f66c-4934-8ae1-73e7784d07fa-articleLarge A Year Later, Iran Finds Evaporating Sympathy at the U.N. Zarif, Mohammad Javad United States International Relations United States Trump, Donald J Rouhani, Hassan Iran General Assembly (UN) Europe

The French and Iranian foreign ministers, Jean-Yves Le Drian and Mohammad Javad Zarif, in New York on Sunday.CreditJohannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Last year, three months after Mr. Trump exited the nuclear deal, Iran came to the General Assembly attempting to insert a wedge between the United States and its European allies.

But “Iran has come to this year’s U.N.G.A. with a real wake-up call that what they are able to get from Europeans is no more than some limited political cover for support of the nuclear deal,” said Ellie Geranmayeh, the deputy head of Middle East and North Africa studies for the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Iranian officials, she said, have arrived in New York discovering that the Europeans cannot offer any substantive economic relief, and that even a French-led initiative to issue a credit line of $15 billion, essentially an advance payment on Iranian oil shipments, is likely to fail. Washington will most likely not issue waivers, and European banks are unwilling to join the effort if they believe they will be banned from clearing transactions in American dollars.

Two weeks ago, it appeared that Iran might find a way out, taking Mr. Trump up on his offer of negotiations. But the attacks on Saudi Arabia, and the American accusations of Iranian involvement, have all but killed that possibility, American officials said.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, told reporters on Sunday that President Emmanuel Macron’s mediation looked promising until the oil facility attacks, which he called a “game changer.”

France’s priorities have shifted from brokering a meeting between Tehran and Washington aimed at restarting a dialogue to just trying to prevent a military conflict.

“The meeting between Trump and Rouhani is not the No. 1 subject,” Mr. Le Drian said. “The priority subject is whether we can restart a de-escalation path with the different actors.”

Mr. Zarif said that the decision on Friday by the Americans to designate Iran’s central bank as a financier of terrorism, making it virtually impossible for international institutions to do business with it, meant that Mr. Trump “knowingly or unknowingly closed the door to negotiations.”

All this may be posturing, of course, on both sides. For months now, Iranian elites have been signaling that the country would have no choice but to deal with Mr. Trump — Mr. Zarif, who has spent much of his life in the United States, now predicts that the president is more likely than not to be re-elected.

And Mr. Trump gyrates between threatening military action and repeating his assertion that the Iranians really want “a deal.” His aides say Mr. Trump episodically envisions the kind of leader-to-leader negotiations he has conducted with Kim Jong-un, though as one senior American diplomat noted recently, unlike Mr. Kim, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “doesn’t hug and doesn’t write” complimentary letters. (Mr. Trump’s effort, through Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, to invite Mr. Zarif to the Oval Office several months ago failed; Mr. Zarif said he would meet American leaders only for a deeply substantive conversation, “not a photo-op” of the kind held with Mr. Kim.)

But such a moment may have already passed.

The hawkish Mr. Pompeo clearly senses that the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities, for which he blamed the Iranians before any forensic evidence had been gathered, have fundamentally changed the negotiating dynamics. He finally has the opportunity he has sought for 18 months: a chance to kill Europe’s effort to neutralize sanctions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last week to discuss the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities.Credit United States Department of State

Mr. Pompeo doubled down on his critique on Sunday, saying the Iranians are “bloodthirsty and looking for war,” and suggesting that as the sanctions cut deeper, the Iranian people will demand changes in their government — though he stopped just short of demanding regime change.

“They’re operating today in five countries,” Mr. Pompeo said of the Iranians on Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” “It’s expensive. They’ve already had to make difficult decisions about whether they’re going to feed their people, provide medicine to their people, or they’re going to launch missiles into Saudi Arabia.”

Over the next few days, both sides will have to show their hands. When Mr. Rouhani arrives to speak to the General Assembly on Wednesday, Mr. Zarif said, the Iranian president will announce a “Coalition for Hope” and will invite a wide variety of nations — including the Sunni Arab states that view Iran as a mortal enemy — to join forces on “freedom of navigation and energy security.”

It seems highly unlikely that the proposal will gain any traction. But then again, Mr. Pompeo has also found few takers for an international coalition to patrol the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters to protect oil shipments.

On Wednesday morning, Mr. Zarif will join the nations that agreed to the 2015 nuclear deal — with the conspicuous exception of the United States — at a meeting about the future of the agreement. Mr. Pompeo, he said, “is welcome to join,” but to do so he must first sign back up to the terms of the old accord before negotiating a new deal.

“We can make the J.C.P.O.A. even better,” he said, using the formal abbreviation for the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

President Trump gyrates between threatening military action and repeating his assertion that the Iranians really want “a deal.”CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

But Mr. Pompeo will not be there. Instead, he will be addressing a group called United Against Nuclear Iran, a vociferous critic of the 2015 deal.

The reality is that the accord is now on life support. While European officials say privately that they believe Iran is striking out at shipping and Saudi facilities only because of the American sanctions, they concede that the Saudi attacks most likely undermined their last hope for an agreement that would restore oil revenues to Tehran.

“For the U.S. to be part of any negotiation with Iran, it has to show it is a trustworthy partner,’’ Mr. Zarif said. Picking up on an American term of art, he said he would not “buy the same horse twice.”

“I bought the horse already,” he said of his efforts in 2015 to convince skeptical leaders in Iran, especially in the military, that the country would be better off signing on to the deal and ending much of its nuclear activity than continuing a relationship of hostility.

The stalemate contrasts dramatically with last year’s events. Back then, Mr. Zarif and the European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, announced a complex European plan to neutralize the American sanctions with a barter system. Iran appeared to still be in full compliance with its commitments under the agreement, bolstering its effort to seem more invested in the international system than the United States.

Mr. Trump even dropped the idea of focusing explicitly on Iran last year, for fear that other members of the Security Council would say that Mr. Trump had, for reasons of ego, disassembled an international agreement largely because his predecessor had negotiated it.

This year could not look more different. Iran this spring began eschewing its commitments under the accord, exceeding the limits on how much nuclear material it can produce and increasing the level of enrichment beyond what was allowed. Mr. Rouhani has promised a carefully calibrated and easily reversible program of further violations, until the Europeans pay up. But the further he goes, the more the agreement gets hollowed out.

Mr. Zarif, for his part, says the Europeans have a stark choice ahead of them. “They can simply defy the United States,” he said. “That is the only way.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s Hold on Military Aid Blindsided Top Ukrainian Officials

Westlake Legal Group 22Ukraine1-facebookJumbo Trump’s Hold on Military Aid Blindsided Top Ukrainian Officials Zelensky, Volodymyr United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Foreign Aid Defense and Military Forces

KIEV, Ukraine — Senior Ukrainian officials said they were blindsided over the summer when they heard the United States would withhold security assistance to the country.

“It was a total surprise,” said Pavlo A. Klimkin, who was Ukraine’s foreign minister in August when he learned of the Trump administration’s suspension of military aid by reading a news article.

The blocking of military aid to Ukraine is now at the center of questions about whether President Trump manipulated foreign policy to pressure the Ukrainian government to take action that would hurt Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and a top rival in the campaign for the presidency.

President Trump acknowledged on Sunday that he used a July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to accuse Mr. Biden of corruption.

Mr. Biden oversaw American policy toward Ukraine in the Obama administration when his son served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company. Allies of Mr. Trump have pointed to a conflict of interest, and asked Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden’s request in 2016 that Ukraine’s president at the time, Petro O. Poroshenko, dismiss a prosecutor who had investigated the gas company.

By the time of that July 25 call, the administration had already suspended the aid, a decision reached in early July, according to a former American official.

But the news would not reach the Ukranian officials until much later, and then through nonofficial channels. For years, Ukranian officials had coordinated with the Pentagon, the State Department and members of Congress on military aid.

Mr. Klimkin said he received no formal notice through American diplomatic channels of the halt in aid, although he noted the suspension came as the ministry was transitioning to a new administration. He left the ministry on Aug. 29.

American military assistance for Ukraine had flowed unobstructed into the country since 2014, the year Russia annexed Crimea and fomented a war in two eastern provinces. The aid had always arrived in carefully choreographed shipments planned months in advance.

If the United States harbored concerns about any misuse of the aid by Ukraine, the senior officials said they had never heard about them.

Mr. Klimkin said American officials had always provided the aid along with encouragement to overhaul the army and military industries to root out corruption.

But Mr. Klimkin said that aid was not conditional on those issues, and that he had heard no expressions of concern on those fronts from the United States in 2019.

“I never heard a discussion about meeting these conditions,” he said. “I’m not aware of any indication that something could have gone wrong.”

After a bipartisan outcry in Congress, the White House agreed to restore the aid in mid-September.

If the decision to suspend the aid was tied to a request by Mr. Trump for a politically motivated investigation, that “represents a fundamental challenge and problem for Ukraine,” Mr. Klimkin said, possibly threatening what had been bipartisan support in Congress for military assistance to the country.

“At the end of the day, the only ones who will be happy about that are the people sitting in the Kremlin,” he said.

In an interview on Ukrainian television on Saturday, Ukraine’s current foreign minister, Vadym V. Prystaiko, said Mr. Trump had not pressured Mr. Zelensky in the telephone call.

“There was talk, conversations are different, leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist,” he said. “This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on a lot of questions, including those requiring serious answers.”

Another official who learned of the hold on aid like a bolt from the blue was Oleh Shevchuk, who was deputy minister of defense in charge of logistics and oversaw the aid shipments until this month. He also said he learned of it through media reports.

Everything had been arriving smoothly, he said. Even as the news of the suspension came out, he said, Ukraine was receiving containers of medical supplies in Odessa, a Black Sea port. The Ukrainian military was expecting 33 Humvees equipped as ambulances, water purifying equipment and so-called containerized housing units, or mobile homes for soldiers. The Ukrainian military still expects these items, he said.

In fact, the hold came and went so quickly he noticed no change in the shipments and American officials never informed him of any planned delays, Mr. Shevchuk said. “We got more this year than last year,” he said.

The United States has provided about $1.5 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine since 2014, almost entirely as equipment, often drawn from United States Army surpluses, rather than money transfers to the Ukrainian budget.

It includes items much sought-after on the battle front, like body armor, night-vision goggles and armored ambulances. But the aid has not been decisive in the now five-year-old war. Some aid, including ready-to-eat meals and at least one sophisticated counter-battery radar, has been captured and gleefully put on display by the Russian-backed separatists.

As a major component of the aid, about 300 American soldiers serve as trainers at a military base in western Ukraine, far from the fighting in the east.

Oksana Syroid, a former deputy speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, said in an interview that no American concerns about military aid crossed her desk this year before the hold was announced.

“It’s a very slippery road, a very dangerous approach, to make external relations a hostage to internal politics,” she said of a possible tie of the aid to corruption accusations against Mr. Biden. “It’s like asking a neighbor to take sides in an argument with your spouse.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Acknowledges Discussing Biden in Call With Ukrainian Leader

WASHINGTON — President Trump acknowledged on Sunday that he discussed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. with Ukraine’s president as Democrats ramped up calls for an investigation into whether he improperly pressured a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent.

While Mr. Trump defended his July phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine as perfectly appropriate, he confirmed that Mr. Biden came up during the discussion and that he accused the former vice president of corruption tied to his son Hunter’s business activities in that former Soviet republic.

“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Mr. Trump told reporters before leaving for a trip to Texas and Ohio.

Mr. Trump did not directly confirm news reports that he pressured Mr. Zelensky for an investigation. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Mr. Trump urged Mr. Zelensky about eight times during the July 25 phone call to work with the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on an investigation of Mr. Biden and his son.

Mr. Giuliani has already publicly acknowledged pressing Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens, and Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday and again over the weekend that the former vice president should be investigated without saying whether it came up during the phone call.

The president’s interest over the summer in a Ukrainian investigation into Mr. Biden, a Democratic front-runner to challenge Mr. Trump in next year’s election, coincided with his administration’s decision to hold up $250 million in security aid to Ukraine. But there have been no indications that Mr. Trump mentioned the money during the call. The president finally agreed to release the money this month after coming under bipartisan pressure from Congress.

Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine are at least part of a whistle-blower’s complaint that has generated intense interest on Capitol Hill. The administration has refused to release the whistle-blower’s complaint to Congress. Mr. Trump said on Sunday that he would “love” to release a transcript of the call “but you have to be a little bit shy about doing it.”

The revelations increased pressure on Democrats to impeach Mr. Trump after months of stutter-start investigation into other matters and after resistance by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pursue such an effort, with polls showing only limited public appetite for Congress removing the president from office.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159980439_9f893971-448d-40f9-abab-977fdd9e0e93-articleLarge Trump Acknowledges Discussing Biden in Call With Ukrainian Leader Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Corruption (Institutional) Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and Mr. Trump spoke in July shortly after the Ukrainian was elected as a reformer and inaugurated.CreditWojciech Olkusnik/EPA, via Shutterstock

“This would be, I think, the most profound violation of the presidential oath of office, certainly during this presidency, which says a lot,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “There is no privilege that covers corruption.”

Mr. Schiff, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said impeachment “may be the only remedy” if Mr. Trump did in fact withhold aid to Ukraine in the hopes that the country would pursue an investigation into the Biden family. “The president is pushing us down this road,” he said. “We may very well have crossed the Rubicon here.”

Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, said Congress had to take action. “If we do have the evidence from this whistle-blower that the president indeed did try to bully a foreign power into affecting our elections, then we have to do something about it,” he said on “Meet the Press” on NBC as he called for release of the whistle-blower’s complaint.

Mr. Murphy, who recently visited Ukraine, said Mr. Zelensky expressed consternation to him that the security aid was held up. The senator said administration officials gave him two explanations for holding up the money — that Mr. Trump was concerned about corruption in Ukraine and that he thought Europe should be the one to assist Kiev rather than the United States.

But Mr. Murphy cast doubt on those explanations and said the situation was clearly suspicious. “Obviously, the timing of this looks really terrible,” he said.

Mr. Zelensky has not commented on the matter since the issue erupted in news reports in recent days, but Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, was quoted telling a Ukrainian news outlet on Saturday that the country’s leaders did not take Mr. Trump’s phone call as pressure.

“I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure,” Mr. Prystaiko said. “This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday denied any link between the security aid and Mr. Trump’s interest in an investigation into his potential rival. “Well, that I can tell you, that there was no connection,” Mr. Mnuchin said on “Meet the Press.” “I have been involved with Secretary Pompeo and others on the national security team on the issue.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that any discussions of aid delivered to Ukraine were “100 percent appropriate” and “100 percent lawful.”CreditPool photo by Mandel Ngan

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appearing on several Sunday shows, did not answer in specifics when asked if there was a “quid pro quo” agreement between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian officials. He insisted more generally that any discussions of aid delivered to Ukraine were “100 percent appropriate” and “100 percent lawful.”

On the other hand, Mr. Pompeo did not hesitate to advance allegations that Mr. Biden should be investigated for wrongdoing.

“If there was election interference that took place by the vice president, I think the American people deserve to know,” he said on “Face the Nation” on CBS. If “Vice President Biden behaved in a way that was inconsistent with the way leaders ought to operate, I think the American people deserve to know that.”

While vice president, Mr. Biden threatened in 2016 to withhold $1 billion in American loan guarantees if Ukraine’s leaders did not dismiss the country’s top prosecutor, who was widely seen as failing to fight corruption. Ukraine’s Parliament complied and the prosecutor was forced out.

That was the policy of the Obama administration at the time, a consensus policy to try to strengthen the rule of law in Ukraine as it fended off military intervention from Russia. But Mr. Biden’s son Hunter served on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch who had come under scrutiny by the fired prosecutor.

Mr. Biden asserted on Saturday that he had never spoken with his son about overseas work. On Sunday, Mr. Trump and Mr. Mnuchin both accused him of lying or misstating that, without citing any evidence.

Mr. Trump spoke with Mr. Zelensky in July shortly after the Ukrainian was elected as a reformer and inaugurated in May. The White House readout of the call that day said only that Mr. Trump congratulated him on his election and that the two “discussed ways to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Ukraine, including energy and economic cooperation.”

The Ukrainian readout of the call at the time, however, hinted at other topics, saying that Mr. Trump had expressed his faith in the new Ukrainian government to “complete investigations into corruption cases that have hampered Ukraine-U.S. cooperation.”

Mr. Biden asserted on Saturday that he had never spoken with his son about overseas work.CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times

In his comments to reporters on Sunday, Mr. Trump said there was nothing wrong with the call. “The conversation, by the way, was absolutely perfect,” he said. “It was a beautiful, warm, nice conversation.”

Making an unscheduled appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Giuliani tried to focus attention on Mr. Biden’s actions rather than his own or the president’s.

In an 11-minute, often rambling interview, Mr. Giuliani delivered accusation after accusation against Hunter Biden, painting the former vice president’s son as a grifter and career criminal. “And the kid, unfortunately, is a drug addict,” Mr. Giuliani said.

He called out various Ukrainian officials and the Democratic donor George Soros by name as being involved in a vast criminal conspiracy, connecting the dots on “Ukrainian collusion” that was aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election.

“When the rest of this comes out,” Mr. Giuliani said, referring to additional allegations about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China, “this will be a lot bigger than Spiro Agnew.”

Mr. Trump, too, mentioned China and attacked Hunter Biden, saying he was unqualified to be making the money he did with his overseas ventures. “The son, he knew nothing, the son is a stiff, he knew nothing,” the president said.

While Democrats spoke out, Republican lawmakers largely remained silent. “I can’t imagine why people have lost their minds so much over these, these daily reports of one thing or another,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, said when reporters encountered him in Houston while waiting for Mr. Trump to arrive for a visit. “They seem to consume everybody’s attention in the news coverage.”

Mr. Cornyn demurred when asked whether a president should pressure a foreign leader to investigate a political rival. “I’m not going to speculate,” he said. “I think the president ought to be able to talk to world leaders and have a conversation without necessarily being public because that you need to have those discussions.”

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, said more needed to be known to draw a conclusion. “Look, it is not appropriate for any candidate for federal office, certainly, including a sitting president, to ask for assistance from a foreign country. That’s not appropriate,” he said on NBC. “But I don’t know that that’s what happened here.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

600 Meetings and a World of Conflict: What to Expect at the U.N. General Assembly

The annual United Nations General Assembly will unfold this week against a backdrop of crises — from the warming planet to economic uncertainty to flaring conflicts that threaten to further entangle the United States in the volatile Middle East.

Trade wars, migration, energy supplies, climate change and the eradication of poverty underpin the basic themes of the 193-member General Assembly agenda. But the actions of the Trump administration, which has sometimes expressed disdain for international institutions like the United Nations, have created a common denominator.

“All of the major topics that I think people will be talking about in the corridors are related to: What is U.S. policy?” said Jeffrey D. Feltman, a veteran American diplomat and former United Nations under secretary-general for political affairs.

Some leaders are not coming, notably Presidents Xi Jinping of China and Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, as well as Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled prime minister of Israel. Also not expected is President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, regarded by the Trump administration and about 50 other governments as an illegitimate leader.

But one prominent figure, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, will attend. The Ukrainian leader plans to meet with Mr. Trump amid growing concerns that Mr. Trump had pressured him over American domestic political issues.

Some of the biggest moments and confrontations could happen early in the week. Here is what to expect:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_144306423_35033b5f-de47-4022-8e74-2f5883c16f01-articleLarge 600 Meetings and a World of Conflict: What to Expect at the U.N. General Assembly Xi Jinping United States International Relations United Nations Trump, Donald J Sisi, Abdel Fattah el- Moon Jae-in International Trade and World Market International Relations General Assembly (UN) Erdogan, Recep Tayyip Embargoes and Sanctions

Mr. Trump addressing the General Assembly last year.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

President Trump, whose penchant for bombast, scaremongering and diplomatic bombshells are well known, will be surrounded by like-minded company on Tuesday when the speeches begin.

Mr. Trump will be preceded by President Jair M. Bolsonaro of Brazil, sometimes called the mini-Trump, a polarizing figure at home who, like Mr. Trump, dismisses fears about climate change and ridicules critics on Twitter.

After Mr. Trump comes President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, the former general who has come to symbolize the repression of the Arab Spring revolutions — although his appearance was thrown into doubt this past weekend as protests erupted at home. Then comes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, an autocrat who has bullied critics and whose government is a leading jailer of journalists.

The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is likely to say that Mr. Trump set off recent conflict by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement.CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

Until recently, speculation abounded that Mr. Trump would make history by meeting with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran. But the Sept. 14 attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, which American and Saudi officials blame on Iran, has made such a meeting unlikely at best.

American officials are expected to present what they have described as evidence that Iran carried out the attack with drones and cruise missiles. Iran has denied the accusation. Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are supported by Iran in their fight against a Saudi-led coalition that has been bombing their country for more than four years, have claimed responsibility.

Mr. Rouhani speaks on Wednesday, and he will almost certainly assert that Mr. Trump ignited the cycle of conflict by withdrawing last year from the 2015 nuclear agreement with major powers and reimposing onerous sanctions that are crippling its economy.

The United States is trying to build a coalition to deter Iran, even if it is unclear what form such deterrence would take. The General Assembly gives the administration an opportunity to “continue to slow walk a military response in favor of more coalition-building and political and economic pressure,” said Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The climate crisis is at the top of the General Assembly’s agenda. About 60 heads of state plan to speak at the Climate Action Summit on Monday, and officials aim to announce initiatives that include net-zero carbon emissions in buildings.

The United States has no such plans — Mr. Trump announced in 2017 that he was withdrawing the country from the Paris Agreement on climate change. But some state governors who have formed the United States Climate Alliance said they would attend the summit and meet with other delegations.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was expected to meet with his Chinese counterparts on the sidelines, suggesting that the administration was seeking to create a more productive atmosphere for resumed trade negotiations after weeks of acrimony. The two governments recently paused their escalating tariff battle.

But some administration officials are pushing for Mr. Trump to address other issues considered sensitive by China, including the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the repression of Tibetans and the detentions of more than one million Muslims, mostly ethnic Uighurs. One official said Mr. Trump should at least criticize China for trying to intimidate Uighur-American activists.

Mr. Trump has never spoken strongly about human rights, and he has openly expressed admiration for Mr. Xi and other authoritarian leaders. But lawmakers in both parties of Congress are pressuring Mr. Trump to act. Bills on the Uighurs, Tibet and Hong Kong are aimed at compelling Mr. Trump and the administration to take harder stands.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, left, and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea are not expected to meet with each other.CreditPool photo by Kim Kyung-Hoon

A protracted feud between Japan and South Korea, rooted in the legacy of Japan’s wartime occupation, has led to downgraded trade relations and the end of an intelligence-sharing agreement. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea are not expected to meet with each other. Whether Mr. Trump can induce them into a three-way conversation remains unclear. And an objective shared by all three — North Korea’s nuclear disarmament — may see little or no progress.

While Mr. Moon is expected to urge Mr. Trump to renew his push for diplomacy with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, no senior North Korean official plans to attend the General Assembly.

Foreign ministers from 18 nations in the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, planned to meet on Monday to discuss what can be done regarding Mr. Maduro, who has presided over the biggest economic collapse in Venezuela’s history and a regional crisis caused by the exodus of millions of his people.

The push will focus on convincing the European Union to expand economic sanctions against Mr. Maduro’s loyalists, including freezing assets they have in Europe. The Europeans may also be pressed to penalize smugglers of Venezuelan gold into Europe.

Mr. Maduro, who claimed victory in disputed elections last fall, has retained power despite nine months of demands to resign by a stubborn opposition movement led by the president of Venezuela’s Parliament, Juan Guaidó. Negotiations between the Venezuelan rivals collapsed last week.

Mr. Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey have been at odds.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump and President Erdogan are expected to meet on the sidelines, but the outcome is unclear at best. A range of difficult issues has pit their governments against each other.

The Trump administration is considering sanctions to punish Turkey, a fellow NATO member, for buying a Russian S-400 missile defense system instead of American-made Patriots. And Mr. Erdogan has expressed growing anger at the United States over their joint operations in the northern part of war-ravaged Syria that borders Turkey.

He says the Americans have failed to establish a safe zone large enough to keep Kurdish fighters out of Turkey, which regards them as terrorist insurgents. On Saturday, Mr. Erdogan warned that his forces would take “unilateral actions” along the border if the United States did not act by the end of the month.

Someone has to speak last in the list of national delegations addressing the General Assembly. This year, that place falls to Afghanistan, just a few weeks after the collapse of talks between the Taliban and the United States that were aimed at ending the 18-year-old war.

With national elections slated for next Saturday, President Ashraf Ghani was not expected to attend. Instead, Afghanistan’s delegation will be led by Hamdullah Mohib, Mr. Ashraf’s national security adviser.

Mr. Mohib infuriated the Trump administration in March, when he predicted the peace talks would not end in peace.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump, Biden and a Whistle-Blower Complaint: Here Are the Basics

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-whistleblowerqa-facebookJumbo Trump, Biden and a Whistle-Blower Complaint: Here Are the Basics Zelensky, Volodymyr Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Ukraine Trump, Donald J Schiff, Adam B Presidential Election of 2020 Office of the Director of National Intelligence Maguire, Joseph (1952- ) House of Representatives Giuliani, Rudolph W Ethics and Official Misconduct Biden, Joseph R Jr Biden, Hunter

WASHINGTON — President Trump is under intense scrutiny over a classified whistle-blower complaint about his behavior, which at least partly involves his dealings with Ukraine’s new president and Mr. Trump’s call for Ukraine’s government to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Here are some of the basic facts behind the controversy.

What did Mr. Trump do?

In a July 25 phone call, Mr. Trump pressed the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Mr. Trump has seized on an unsubstantiated theory that when Mr. Biden conditioned a $1 billion loan guarantee on the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor in 2016, he was trying to protect the company from prosecution. Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, has pushed the Ukrainian government to investigate the matter and to explore whether there was impropriety involved in its decision in 2016 to release incriminating information about Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort.

Why is this coming up now?

Because of an intelligence community whistle-blower who filed a complaint last month about the president’s actions. An inspector general deemed the complaint “credible” and “urgent” and forwarded it to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has refused to share it with Congress. The issue was brought out into the open when the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, sent an angry letter to Mr. Maguire on Sept. 10 demanding the complaint be shared with his panel. Reporting since then by The New York Times and other news outlets has filled in some of the substance.

What did the whistle-blower claim?

The full extent of the whistle-blower’s complaint, as well as the whistle-blower’s identity, is not publicly known because Mr. Maguire will not share it. (He says that is because the complaint entails matters potentially covered by legal “privilege” and concerns conduct by someone outside the intelligence community.) Reporting by The Times and others has established that the complaint involves Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine and a phone call with a foreign leader — possibly, but not necessarily, Mr. Zelensky. It is not clear if it includes other matters.

Did Mr. Trump use American foreign policy to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival?

This is the big question. The White House this summer blocked a package of military assistance to Ukraine. The aid was intended to help the country defend itself from Russian territorial aggression, including a military conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014. The aid was first publicly disclosed as delayed about a month after the July phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky. Mr. Trump is not known to have openly linked the aid — which has since been released — to his demands for political investigations, but many Democrats believe that may be the case. This month, three Democratic House committee chairmen sent letters to the State Department and the White House warning that it would be “a staggering abuse of power, a boon to Moscow and a betrayal of the public trust” if Mr. Trump was withholding the military assistance to “improperly pressure the Ukrainian government to assist the president’s bid for re-election.”

What does Mr. Trump say?

The president insists that he has been unfairly accused, saying — without offering evidence — that the whistle-blower is “partisan” and that Democrats and the news media are initiating a new “witch hunt” against him. Mr. Trump has said that he is aware that his conversations with foreign leaders are monitored by numerous government officials and that he would not incriminate himself so easily. More specifically, Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday that his July call with Mr. Zelensky “was a totally appropriate conversation — it was actually a beautiful conversation.” Mr. Trump also repeated his unsubstantiated assertion that Mr. Biden improperly pressured the Ukrainian government.

What is Mr. Giuliani’s role in this?

As Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani has communicated with Ukrainian officials for months about the Bidens, as well as about the circumstances of the 2016 disclosures of payments earmarked by a Russia-aligned Ukrainian political party to Mr. Manafort, who is now serving a prison sentence on charges related to his Ukrainian political work. Mr. Giuliani has sought information about both matters, and traveled to Madrid this summer for a meeting with one of Mr. Zelensky’s top aides, whom he urged to investigate the matters.

Did Mr. Biden do something wrong?

There is no evidence that Mr. Biden intentionally tried to help his son when he pushed for the dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor, who was widely seen in the West as corrupt. Stamping out high-level corruption in Ukraine has long been a central goal of United States policy toward the country, and a standard condition for Western aid. Mr. Biden played a lead role in the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Kiev, but Obama administration officials worried that his son’s work for the energy company, Burisma Holdings, could create at least the perception of a conflict of interest. The United States and other Western governments had previously pressed Ukraine to pursue corruption investigations into Burisma and Mykola Zlochevsky, the oligarch who owned it. Those investigations did not yield convictions, which American officials said was at least partly because the Ukrainian prosecutors were intentionally stymieing the efforts. Mr. Zlochevsky’s allies, on the other hand, contended that the corruption claims were baseless and that the threat of prosecution was merely being used to try to solicit bribes from him or his allies.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com