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Diplomatic Relations

LEBANON POLITICS: Changes to Proposed US Anti-Hezbollah Sanctions Allay Lebanon’s Fears

LEBANON POLITICS: Changes to Proposed US Anti-Hezbollah Sanctions Allay Lebanon’s Fears

Lebanon’s government, central bank and private banks have lobbied U.S. politicians and banks hard this year – and continue to do so – to persuade Washington to balance its tough anti-Hezbollah stance with the need to preserve stability.

Their main message has been that the last thing needed by the United States, which backs the Lebanese army in its fight against Islamic State and other militants spilling over from Syria, is another failed state in the Middle East.

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VENEZUELA POLITICS: Trump Signs New Sanctions Against Venezuela ‘Dictatorship’ PDVSA Debt

VENEZUELA POLITICS: Trump Signs New Sanctions Against Venezuela ‘Dictatorship’ PDVSA Debt

“These measures are carefully calibrated to deny the Maduro dictatorship a critical source of financing to maintain its illegitimate rule, protect the United States financial system from complicity in Venezuela’s corruption and in the impoverishment of the Venezuelan people,” the White House said in a statement.

“We will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,” it said.

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CAMBODIA POLITICS: Hun Sen Attacks American’s Interests

CAMBODIA POLITICS: Hun Sen Attacks American’s Interests

Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge guerrilla who is now one of China’s closest allies, has ratched up steps against the United States this year from ending joint military exercises to demanding forgiveness of war-era debt from the 1970s.

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PALESTINE POLITICS: Palestinian Officials to Britain: Recognize Independent Palestinian State

PALESTINE POLITICS: Palestinian Officials to Britain: Recognize Independent Palestinian State

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said:

“Britain … and the rest of the world have to obligate the Israeli government to accept the principle of [the so-called] two states based on the June 4, 1967 borders, that is an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital … and a halt to all Israeli colonial activities.”

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RUSSIA POLITICS: Russia, China Slam New Unilateral US Sanctions

RUSSIA POLITICS: Russia, China Slam New Unilateral US Sanctions

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov reacted to the new US sanctions by expressing disappointment and warning Washington that Moscow was preparing a response.

“The lip service from American representatives about the desire to stabilize bilateral relations [with Russia] is extremely unconvincing. In recent years, Washington in theory should have learned that for us, the language of sanctions is unacceptable, and the solutions to real problems are only hindered by such actions. So far, however, there doesn’t seem to be an understanding of such obvious truths. In the meantime, we are beginning to work out the inevitable response to this situation.”

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VENEZUELA POLITICS: Venezuela-US Relations at Lowest Point Ever: Maduro

VENEZUELA POLITICS: Venezuela-US Relations at Lowest Point Ever: Maduro

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said that he and U.S. President Donald Trump should be respectful of each other and that relations between Venezuela and the United States should be normalized and a dialog established. “You and I should talk,” said Maduro. “Only by speaking can we understand each other.”

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IRAN POLITICS: US Provocations Aimed at Demonizing Iran: UN Envoy

IRAN POLITICS: US Provocations Aimed at Demonizing Iran: UN Envoy

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “The new US administration officials should know that the failed experience of threats and sanctions forced their predecessors to come to the negotiating table. If they prefer to return to those times, Iran will definitely return to a situation much more advanced than the start of the [nuclear] negotiations, not within months and weeks, but in a matter of hours and days.”

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COLOMBIA POLITICS: War With FARC ‘Over’: Juan Manuel Santos Declares

COLOMBIA POLITICS: War With FARC ‘Over’: Juan Manuel Santos Declares

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos declared the end of the 50-year old conflict with former rebel group FARC, “With the laying down of arms… the conflict is truly over and a new phase begins in the life of our nation. This is truly a historic moment for the country. We have been a republic for 198 years. Never had we had such a long conflict and today is indeed the last breath of that conflict.”

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QATAR POLITICS: Saudi-Led Siege Failed to Bring Qatar to its Knees: Mutlaq Majed al-Qahtani

QATAR POLITICS: Saudi-Led Siege Failed to Bring Qatar to its Knees: Mutlaq Majed al-Qahtani

Mutlaq Majed al-Qahtani, the Qatari foreign minister’s special envoy for counterterrorism and mediation said, “If Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — the countries driving the confrontation, despite the appearance of a unified bloc — hoped to bring Qatar to its knees, they have failed. If they hoped to damage Qatar’s reputation and improve their own, they have failed. If they hoped to enhance their relationship with the US at Qatar’s expense, again, they have failed.”

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PHILIPPINE POLITICS: China Agrees on no New Expansion in South China Sea

PHILIPPINE POLITICS: China Agrees on no New Expansion in South China Sea

“The Chinese will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal,” Lorenzana told lawmakers late on Monday, referring to a prime fishing ground close to the Philippines that China blockaded from 2012 to 2016.

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VENEZUELA POLITICS: Trump’s Talks of Military Intervention in Venezuela Risks Alienating Latin American

VENEZUELA POLITICS: Trump’s Talks of Military Intervention in Venezuela Risks Alienating Latin American

“For years he’s been saying the U.S. is preparing an invasion, and everyone laughed. But now the claim has been validated,” said Mark Feierstein, who served as President Barack Obama’s top national security adviser on Latin America. “It’s hard to imagine a more damaging thing for Trump to say.”

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IRAN POLITICS: Lawmakers Overwhelmingly Pass Bill in Response to US Sanctions

IRAN POLITICS: Lawmakers Overwhelmingly Pass Bill in Response to US Sanctions

In a session Sunday, 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, with only one abstention, to confront “America’s terrorist and adventurous actions” in the region. The plan would require Iran’s government and armed forces to draw up a strategy to counter US violations of human rights around the world, and to support Iranian bodies and individuals affected by US sanctions. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, who is the head of an Iranian commission tasked with monitoring the agreement’s implementation, told MPs that the government backed the bill which he described as “very strong.”

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VENEZUELA POLITICS: Trump Threatens Military Intervention in Venezuela

VENEZUELA POLITICS: Trump Threatens Military Intervention in Venezuela

“The people are suffering and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters in an impromptu question and answer session.

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VENEZUELA POLITICS: Maduro Seeks to Meet Trump

VENEZUELA POLITICS: Maduro Seeks to Meet Trump

“If he (Trump) is so interested in Venezuela, here I am. Mister Donald Trump, here is my hand,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said.

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CHINA POLITICS: Beijing Seethes on Sidelines Amid New North Korea Crisis

CHINA POLITICS: Beijing Seethes on Sidelines Amid New North Korea Crisis

“China is not too worried that the United States might suddenly attack North Korea. It is worried about THAAD,” said Sun Zhe, co-director of the China Initiative of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

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VENEZUELA POLITICS: United States Hits Venezuela With New Sanctions

VENEZUELA POLITICS: United States Hits Venezuela With New Sanctions

“President Maduro swore in this illegitimate Constituent Assembly to further entrench his dictatorship, and continues to tighten his grip on the country,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

“This regime’s disregard for the will of the Venezuelan people is unacceptable, and the United States will stand with them in opposition to tyranny until Venezuela is restored to a peaceful and prosperous democracy.”

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CANADA POLITICS: North Korea Releases Rim Hyon Su on ‘Humanitarian’ Grounds

CANADA POLITICS: North Korea Releases Rim Hyon Su on ‘Humanitarian’ Grounds

“Rim Hyon Su, a Canadian civilian, was released on sick bail according to the decision of the Central Court of the DPRK on August 9, 2017, from the humanitarian viewpoint,” KCNA said, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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USA POLITICS: Russia Reacts to White House Soap Opera With a Shrug

USA POLITICS: Russia Reacts to White House Soap Opera With a Shrug

Russian officials trying to interact with the U.S. administration on mundane organizational issues say privately the turbulence in the White House causes them headaches because they don’t know who to talk to, or can wait weeks for answers to their questions. “Nobody pays any attention any more, or expects any improvements,” said a person close to the Russian government, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss foreign policy issues.

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RUSSIA POLITICS: Sanctions Retaliation: Russia to Cut Dependence on US Payment Systems

RUSSIA POLITICS: Sanctions Retaliation: Russia to Cut Dependence on US Payment Systems

“We will of course intensify work related to import substitution, reduction of dependence on U.S. payment systems, on the dollar as a settling currency and so on. It is becoming a vital need,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying in response to the new sanctions against Russia.

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NORTH KOREA POLITICS: Pyongyang Rejects UN Sanctions, Vows ‘Righteous Action’

NORTH KOREA POLITICS: Pyongyang Rejects UN Sanctions, Vows ‘Righteous Action’

North Korea has been conducting nuclear and ballistic missile tests despite warnings issued and sanctions imposed by the international community. “We will not put our self-defensive nuclear deterrent on the negotiating table” while it faced threats from Washington, it said, “and will never take a single step back from strengthening our nuclear might”.

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