At Raucous Hearing, Saakashvili Fights For Ukrainian Citizenship

Opposition politician Mikheil Saakashvili was in Ukraine’s Supreme Court on January 29 to seek the restitution of his Ukrainian citizenship, which was revoked by President Petro Poroshenko last year.

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Kremlin Alleges U.S. ‘Oligarchs List’ Aimed To Influence Election

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Moscow believes a hotly anticipated U.S. list of rich Russians seen as close to President Vladimir Putin is an attempt to meddle in the country’s March 18 election.

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EU Ready to Hit Back if Trump Imposes Anti-EU Trade Measures

The European Union says that if U.S. President Donald Trump initiates unfair trade measures against the 28-nation bloc, it would stand ready “to react swiftly and appropriately.”

 

In a weekend interview, Trump said he was annoyed with EU trade policy since he claims the U.S. cannot sufficiently export to the EU. He said his problems with the EU “may morph into something very big” from a trade standpoint.

 

EU spokesman Margaritis Schinas retorted Monday that “while trade has to be open and fair it also has to be rules-based.”

 

Schinas said: “The EU stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measure from the United States.”

 

 

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Pope Denounces Holocaust ‘Indifference’ amid Polish Uproar

Pope Francis says countries have a responsibility to fight anti-Semitism and the “virus of indifference” threatening to erase the memory of the Holocaust.

Francis’ comments to an international conference Monday comes as the largely Roman Catholic Poland considers legislation that would outlaw blaming Poles for the crimes of the Holocaust. The proposed legislation has sparked an outcry in Israel.

 

Francis didn’t mention the dispute but he spoke of his 2016 visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in German-occupied Poland, saying he remembered “the roar of the deafening silence” that left room for only tears, prayer and requests for forgiveness.

He called for Christians and Jews to build a “common memory” of the Holocaust, saying “it is our responsibility to hand it on in a dignified way to young generations.”

 

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Moscow Protesters Support Navalny’s Election Boycott Call

Thousands of protesters gathered at Moscow’s central Pushkin Square on January 28 to call for the boycott of Russia’s upcoming presidential election. Russian anticorruption activist and opposition politician Aleksei Navalny urged the boycott after he was barred from running in the election. Police arrested Navalny as he walked down a main thoroughfare to the demonstration. (AP)

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Key Republicans Support Mueller Handling of Trump Probe

Key Republicans voiced strong support Sunday for special counsel Robert Mueller’s handling of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but split on whether Congress needs to approve legislation to block President Donald Trump from firing Mueller.

Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, breaking with some of their Republican colleagues in Congress, stated in separate Sunday news shows that they support legislation, mostly favored by Democratic lawmakers, to require a judicial review if Trump were to attempt to dismiss Mueller.

Two prominent Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives — Kevin McCarthy of California and Trey Gowdy of South Carolina — both said they approve of Mueller’s performance in the ongoing criminal investigation. But McCarthy said he sees no need to enact a law to protect Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Mueller’s fate is at the forefront of the Russia investigation after news accounts surfaced in recent days that Trump ordered White House lawyer Don McGahn to fire Mueller last June. but backed off after McGahn threatened to quit over the would-be ouster.

Trump has denied on several occasions in recent months that he had even thought about firing Mueller and branded last week’s story, first reported by The New York Times, as “fake news,” his favorite censure for stories he does not like.

Graham said he would be glad to pass legislation to protect Trump from trying to oust Mueller, who is in the midst of negotiations with Trump’s lawyers over terms of Trump’s possible testimony under oath about the Russian election interference and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI director James Comey, who at the time was heading the law enforcement agency’s Russia probe before Mueller took it over.

But Graham said regardless of whether legislation is approved or not, “I see no evidence that President Trump wants to fire Mr. Mueller now. It’s pretty clear to me that everybody at the White House knows that it would be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller.”

Gowdy said he supports Mueller’s handling of the probe “100 percent, particularly if he’s given the time, the resources and the independence to do his job.”

Trump last week reiterated his long-standing contention that there was “no collusion” between him and Russian interests to help him defeat his Democratic challenger, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and also said there was “no obstruction” of the investigation. He attributed his actions in trying to limit the investigation to “fighting back.”

He said he is looking forward to testifying before Mueller’s lawyers and would do it under oath. But his lawyers subsequently said discussions with Mueller’s team are still ongoing about the terms of any interview of Trump and what topics would be discussed.

Comey, in notes he compiled from several meetings with Trump, says that the president urged him to drop his investigation of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired by Trump after less than a month on the job for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington in the weeks before Trump assumed power. Trump has denied Comey’s account of their talks.

Trump, who unsuccessfully asked Comey for a loyalty pledge, dismissed him in May. A day later, Trump told Russian officials in a White House meeting he had relieved himself of “great pressure,” describing Comey as “crazy, a real nut job.” A few days later, Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News that he ousted Comey because of “this Russia thing,” saying the investigation was “a hoax” perpetrated by Democrats to explain his upset election victory.

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told Fox News he knows that Trump is “frustrated” by the investigation, that “millions of dollars have been spent with no evidence of collusion.”

 

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Japan Foreign Minister Hopes for Improved Ties with China

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed hopes for improved relations with China during talks Sunday in Beijing that also touched on joint efforts to counter North Korea’s nuclear program.

 

In opening remarks to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, Kono said that as the world’s second and third largest economies, China and Japan “have a major responsibility in safeguarding the stability and prosperity of Asia and the world at large.”

 

Wang said China had noted positive remarks about the relationship from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but that difficulties still remain.

 

“At present, the Sino-Japanese relations are at a crucial stage. There is positive progress, but many disturbances and obstacles remain,” Wang said.

 

Japan has pushed for stricter measures against North Korea, which fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido in August. In his remarks, Kono stressed the need for a united front against Pyongyang.

 

“Not only do we need to manage our bilateral relations, but we also need to work together to deal with issues facing the entire globe, in particular the issue of North Korea, which is the matter at hand for the international community as a whole,” Kono said.

The sides were working to arrange a trilateral summit in Tokyo between leaders from China, South Korea and Japan, followed by a visit by Abe to China and a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan, said Norio Maruyama, a spokesman for Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

Following the talks, Kono met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and senior foreign policy adviser State Councilor Yang Jiechi.

 

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Yang as saying the sides should “set aside interferences, consolidate and expand beneficial factors and further the continued development and improvement of China-Japan relations.”

 

China and Japan experienced a major break in relations in 2012, after Beijing responded furiously to Japan’s nationalization of uninhabited East China Sea islands that Tokyo controls but which China claims.

 

They moved toward normalization with Abe’s visit to Beijing in 2014, however, mutual distrust continues to run high, especially over the islands, known in Japan as the Senkakus and in China as the Diaoyus. Taiwan also claims the islands, referring to them as Diaoyutai.

 

Maruyama said Kono stressed the importance of a coordinated approach to North Korea, but said japan also raised the issue of recent Chinese incursions into its territorial waters.

 

“We don’t want to see anything that can undermine the improving relationship,” Maruyama said.

 

Earlier this month, Tokyo expressed concern when a Chinese nuclear powered attack submarine was found operating just outside Japan’s territorial waters. The sub later surfaced in the high seas flying the Chinese flag.

 

Japanese media quoted Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera telling reporters after the incident that Japan was “seriously concerned over acts that unilaterally raise tensions” and would “respond swiftly if a similar incident happens.”

 

Also this month, three Chinese coast guard vessels passed through what Japan considers its territorial waters surrounding the East China Sea islands in the third such intrusion this month.

 

Both incidents have been viewed as attempts by China to probe Japan’s ability to patrol the area and detect intrusions.

Animosity between the sides owes largely to Chinese resentment over Japan’s brutal invasion and occupation of large parts of China. Many Chinese feel Japan has never shown adequate contrition for its acts, a sentiment fueled by the ruling Communist Party’s use of heavy-handed nationalistic propaganda in schools and entirely state-controlled media.

 

Yet, the Japan-U.S. military alliance remains stronger than ever and Japan has responded to China’s territorial claims by recently opening a museum in Tokyo to present evidence intended to support its position.

 

China’s generally positive relationship with South Korea, another close U.S. ally, has also soured over Beijing’s demands that Seoul remove a sophisticated anti-missile system intended to counter the threat from Pyongyang.

 

South Korea has refused to do so and Beijing has lately softened its position by accepting a commitment to not expand the system, known as THAAD.

 

Hopes for further reconciliation rose in November when officials from Japan, South Korea and China met in the Philippines to discuss the possibility of again holding a trilateral summit between them. The last one was held in 2015.

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Президент Туреччини пообіцяв «очистити від терористів» зону кордону з Сирією

Президент Туреччини Реджеп Тайїп Ердоган пообіцяв, що його країна «очистить від терористів» усю зону кордону з сусідньою Сирією.

Як заявив він на з’їзді своєї владної Партії справедливості і розвитку, таким чином Туреччина забезпечить для сирійських біженців, яких вона прийняла, можливість повернутися додому, коли прикордонну зону «очистять від терористів».

Як заявили турецькі війська 28 січня, цього дня вони спільно зі своїми союзниками з лав сирійських повстанців захопили стратегічно важливу висоту на півночі Сирії – пагорб Бурсая. Ця висота відокремлює територію так званого регіону Афрін, який контролюють загони сирійських курдів, «Сили народної оборони», від уже захопленого турецькими військами сирійського міста Азаз. Сирійські курди теж повідомили про запеклі бої за пагорб Бурсая, а базована в Лондоні Сирійська група спостереження за правами людини підтвердила, що внаслідок цих боїв курди дійсно втратили висоту.

Туреччина вже другий тиждень веде воєнну операцію з назвою «Оливкова гілка» на території Сирії біля свого кордону, в регіоні Афрін. Анкара вважає, що «Сили народної оборони» сирійських курдів споріднені з курдським сепаратистським збройним угрупованням «Робітнича партія Курдистану», яке воює в самій Туреччині проти її влади й визнане терористичним і в Туреччині, і ще в низці країн. Відтак Анкара залічує до «терористів» і загони сирійських курдів – супротивників режиму президента Сирії Башара аль-Асада.

Туреччина веде свою операцію проти сирійських курдів спільно зі створеним нею об’єднанням інших сил сирійської опозиції, які протистоять сирійським курдам, – головно у складі сирійських арабів і тюркменів (турецької меншини в Сирії).

Сирійські курди воюють проти сил екстремістського угруповання «Ісламська держава» і мають у цьому підтримку США. Вашингтон уже закликав Анкару до деескалації дій її сил на півночі Сирії.

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January 28, 2018

A look at the best news photos from around the world.

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Erdogan Vows To Clear Border With Syria Of ‘Terrorists’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that Turkey will clear its entire border with Syria with what he called “terrorists.”

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