Tag Archives: United Nations

Trump Chairing Security Council, Calls for New Sanctions Against Iran, Accuses China of Interfering in US Election

Donald Trump chairs the United Nations Security Council meeting, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

During a Security Council meeting on counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Donald Trump, chairing the meeting, cited chemical weapons being used in Syria, aided by Russia and Iran, but proceeded only to chastise Iran, and used Iran’s support of terrorism in the region to justify pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reimposing economic sanctions on Iran.

“The regime is the world’s leading sponsor of terror and fuels conflict across the region and far beyond.  A regime with this track record must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon.

“For this reason, I announced earlier this year that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

“This horrible, one-sided deal allowed Iran to continue its path towards a bomb and gave the regime a cash lifeline when they needed it the most.  They were in big, big trouble.  They needed cash.  We gave it to them.”

“After that, the United States will pursue additional sanctions, tougher than ever before, to counter the entire range of Iran’s malign conduct.  Any individual or entity who fails to comply with these sanctions will face severe consequences.

“I ask all members of the Security Council to work with the United States to ensure the Iranian regime changes its behavior and never acquires a nuclear bomb.”

Donald Trump arrives last at the Security Council meeting to little fanfare© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In his remarks to the Security Council, Trump went on to thank Iran, Russia, and Syria “for — at my very strong urging and request — substantially slowing down their attack on Idlib Province and the 3 million people who live there in order to get 35,000 targeted terrorists.  Get the terrorists, but I hope the restraint continues.  The world is watching.

“Thank you also to Turkey for helping to negotiate restraint.  Anything the USA can do to help resolve this problem in order to save perhaps even hundreds of thousands of lives, maybe more, we are willing and able.  We are available to help.”

Donald Trump, sitting next to UN Secretary General António Guterres © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.commeeting, Sept. 26, 2018

Without missing a beat, Trump then accused China (not Russia) of interfering in the upcoming US midterm elections – by retaliating against US-imposed tariffs with tariffs on products impacting Trump’s voter base including farmers.

“China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration.  They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first President ever to challenge China on trade.  And we are winning on trade.  We are winning at every level.  We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.”

Meanwhile, he overstated the progress being made with denuclearizing North Korea.

“As I also mentioned yesterday, we have seen the results of historic efforts to open new pathways to peace on the North Korean Peninsula — on the Korean Peninsula.  And that’s something we are extremely proud of.

DDonald Trump chairs the Security Council meeting © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I am pleased to say that North Korea has not conducted a missile test since last November.  It has not conducted a nuclear test since last September.  And the hostages have been returned to us.  And very importantly, the remains of American heroes are now returning home.

“In June, I held a historic summit with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore, where he reaffirmed his commitment to complete denuclearization.  Last week, Chairman Kim reiterated that commitment to President Moon at their third summit, and to me in a very strong letter form.

“I think we will make a deal.  But unfortunately, to ensure this progress continues, we must enforce existing U.N. Security Council resolutions until denuclearization occurs.”

John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Adviser and a hard-liner on Iran, and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly listen as Donald Trump calls for renewed sanctions against Iran © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But he expressed concern that “some nations” (without naming Russia) are already violating these U.N. sanctions.  This includes illegal ship-to-ship transfers, which must end immediately.  The safety of the Korean Peninsula, the region, and the world, depends on full compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions.  Very, very important.

“But most importantly, I believe that Chairman Kim Jong Un, a man I have gotten to know and like, wants peace and prosperity for North Korea.  Many things are happening behind the scenes — away from the media, which nobody knows — but they are happening nevertheless and they are happening in a very positive way.  So I think you will have some very good news coming from North Korea in the coming months and years.

“I also very much appreciate what President Moon of South Korea had to say about me last night in television interviews.  Working with President Moon has been my great honor.  And likewise, working with President Xi of China and Prime Minister Abe of Japan has been a pleasure and an honor.”

Donald Trump chairs the Security Council meeting © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Trump finished with flourishes of glory: “Each of us follows in the footsteps of countless world leaders, diplomats, and public servants who came here to the United Nations with the same noble goal: to build a future worthy of the patriots — true, true patriots — who sacrificed their lives for our nation and for our future.

“To be successful, we need a commitment of every nation represented in this chamber.  Acting together, we can replace the horrors of war with the blessings of safety and the beautiful promise of peace.”

But speakers afterward countered Trump that the way to foster nonproliferation was to save the Iran Nuclear Agreement and build upon it.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Teresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Security Council meeting, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

French President Emmanuel Macron said there needed to be a long-term strategy to manage the Iran issue and that it could not be done with just sanctions and containment. During a press briefing, Macron said that crippling Iran’s economy would be counterproductive and he would look to mitigate the impact of US sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron greets members of the African delegation at the Security Council meeting, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And in his General Assembly address, Iran President Hassan Rouhani declared the current US administration “seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual.”

“What Iran says is clear: no war, no sanctions, no threats, no bullying; just acting according to the law and the fulfillment of obligations,” Rouhani said.

In his General Assembly address, Iran President Hassan Rouhani declared the current US administration “seems determined to render all international institutions ineffectual.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Rouhani said Iran was pleased other countries did not “acquiesce” to the US demands to break the deal.

Unilateral sanctions “constitute a form of economic terrorism and a breach of the right for development,” Rouhani declared.

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Trump Separates Friends (North Korea, Japan) From Foes (Canada, China, Iran) at Press Conference During UN Visit

Donald Trump press conference, Lotte Hotel, NYC, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

To really get a sense of who Donald Trump is as president, listen to his responses to a wide-ranging press conference, held on the day he chaired a Security Council meeting at the United Nations and the day after he delivered his address to the General Assembly, rejecting multilateralism in favor of America First sovereignty. 

In his press conference, he addressed everything from the Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s handling of sexual assault charges, to North Korea, Iran, trade agreements. He accused China of meddling in the 2018 election (by imposing retaliatory tariffs targeting farmers and Red States). He continued to boast about historic gains in the economy while attacking Democrats, Obama, and sniping at Hillary Clinton. (“If others got in, it would have been just the opposite because they were going to put restrictions on.  They were going to put regulations on.  They were going to choke the economy as it was already choking, but it would have been worse.  And they were going to raise your taxes.  That’s what they want to do now if they ever got control, which I don’t think they’ll have control for a long time.”) 

He attacked Justin Trudeau of Canada while praising Kim Jong Un of North Korea, and anyone else who registered adoration. 

He dismissed any suggestion that members in the General Assembly laughed at his boast of accomplishing more in his time in office than any US president in history. 

So the fake news said, ‘People laughed at President Trump.’  They didn’t laugh at me.  People had a good time with me.  We were doing it together.  We had a good time.  They respect what I’ve done. The United States is respected again.  The United States was not respected.  Everybody was taking advantage of us.  From jobs, and taking our companies, and not paying the price — to so many other things, even military protection.” 

And he managed to get a hit at “fake news” and the “failing” New York Times. 

Here, then, is a minimally edited transcript of the press conference.  — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

 

PRESS CONFERENCE

BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

Lotte New York Palace New York, New York

September 26, 2018

4:57 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much everybody.  We’ve had a great three days at the United Nations in New York.  And this is quite a gathering.  Wow.  It’s a lot of people.  A lot of media.  (Laughter.)

We’ve covered a great deal of territory.  Just left, as you know, Prime Minister Abe of Japan.  We’re starting trade talks with Japan.  They were not willing, for years, to talk trade, and now they’re willing to talk trade.  And I’m sure we’ll make a very good deal.

Just concluded, as you know — two days ago, signed a deal with South Korea — a trade deal.  A tremendous deal with South Korea.  It means a lot of business for our farmers.  We’re opening up for farmers.  We’re opening up for a lot of different groups.

We’re going to be able to sell much more than double the number of automobiles that we were allowed under a deal that was totally defective that was there before.  And so we’re very happy with that.  That deal is actually concluded.

We’re very well along the way with Mexico.  The relationship is very good.  And with Canada, we’ll see what happens.  They’re charging us 300-percent tariffs on dairy products.  We can’t have that.  We can’t have that.

With China, as you know, we put out an announcement today.  They would like to see me lose an election because they’ve never been challenged like this.  But I want to open up China to our farmers and to our industrialists and our companies.  And China is not open, but we’re open to them.  They charge us 25, 35, 55 percent for things, and we charge them nothing in terms of coming into the country.

Cars, they’re at 25 percent.  And we’re at 2 percent and 2.5 percent, and don’t even collect it.  But we collect it now.

So we’re doing very well in our situation with China on trade.  I have a great relationship with the President of China, President Xi.  But it’s got to be a two-way street.  It — for 25 years and longer, it was not.  And trillions and trillions of dollars was taken out of the United States for the benefit of China.  We just can’t have that.  We have to make it fair.

So we’re at $250 billion now, at 25 percent interest.  And a lot of money is coming into our coffers.  And it’s had no impact on our — absolutely, by the way, no impact on our economy, which I said it wouldn’t.

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In fact, steel is like the hottest industry there is.  If you look at what happened with steel, we’re charging a 25 percent tariff for the dumpers.  They dump massive amounts of steel.  They want to put the steel companies out of business.  And after they’re out of business, they’ll come in and charge five times more than you ever thought possible.  And we need steel and we need aluminum.  And those industries are doing well.

But steel is incredible.  U.S. Steel is opening up a minimum of eight plants.  Nucor is opening up plants.  And these are big plants — $750 million and a billion dollar plants, in some cases.

So what’s happening with the steel industry is very exciting to me.  It’s being rebuilt overnight.  If you look at the miners in coal, if you look at energy, LNG — Japan just gave us some numbers that are incredible.  They’re doubling the amount that they are going to be buying for Japan.  They’re taking the LNG and they’re doubling it up.

I said, “You have to do me a favor.  We don’t want these big deficits.  You’re going to have to buy more.”  They’re buying massive amounts of equipment and military equipment, and other countries are doing the same thing.  Because we have trade imbalances with almost everybody.  It’s a rare exception that we don’t.

So we are doing great as a country.  Unfortunately, they just raised interest rates a little bit because we are doing so well.  I’m not happy about that, because I know it’s going to be a question.  I am not happy about that.  I’d rather pay down debt or do other things, create more jobs.  So I’m worried about the fact that they seem to like raising interest rates.  We can do other things with the money.  And — but they raised them.  And they’re raising them because we’re doing so well.  You know, we’re doing much better than I had projected in terms of — when I was campaigning, I said we were going to do this and we’re doing much better than anybody ever thought possible.

And, I will say, if others got in, it would have been just the opposite because they were going to put restrictions on.  They were going to put regulations on.  They were going to choke the economy as it was already choking, but it would have been worse.  And they were going to raise your taxes.  That’s what they want to do now if they ever got control, which I don’t think they’ll have control for a long time.

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Kavanaugh Confirmation

Q    In 1991, when Joe Biden passed along to the Bush 41 White House the allegations that Anita Hill had raised against Clarence Thomas, the Bush White House asked the FBI to look into it as part of Judge Thomas’s background investigation — not a criminal investigation, but the background investigation. When these allegations were raised, why didn’t this White House do the same thing?  And with all of the allegations that are coming out now about Judge Kavanaugh, was there an opportunity missed here to have investigators look into this and get some sort of clarity one way or the other?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, the FBI told us they’ve investigated Judge Kavanaugh six times, five times, many times over the years.  They know him very well.  But here, there was nothing to investigate from at least one standpoint.  They didn’t know the location.  They didn’t know the time.  They didn’t know the year.  They didn’t know anything.  And it’s like, where do you go?

Also, it’s not for the FBI.  If you look at what Joe Biden said, he said, “They don’t do this.”  And he said it very clearly.

So I think when you really look at it all, it’s not going to change any of the Democrats’ minds.  They’re obstructionists.  They’re actually con artists because they know how quality this man is and they’ve destroyed a man’s reputation and they want to destroy it even more.

And I think people are going to see that in the midterms.  What they’ve done to this family, what they’ve done to these children — these beautiful children of his — and what they’ve done to his wife.  And they know it’s a big, fat con job.

And they go into a room and, I guarantee you, they laugh like hell at what they’ve pulled off on you and on the public.  They laugh like hell.      So, it wouldn’t have mattered if the FBI came back with the cleanest score.  And you understand that very well, John.  If they would have come back with the most perfect — “We found everything, and he’s perfectly innocent of everything.”  It wouldn’t have made a difference.  You wouldn’t have gotten one vote.

Now we will get votes from the Democrats if we win.  You’ll have three, four, or five Democrats giving us votes, because they’re in states that I won by 30 and 40 points and they’re going to give us votes. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Q    Mr. President, there are now three women accusing Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.  Are you saying that all three of those women are liars?  Is there anything that can be said at this point tomorrow that could cause you to withdraw the nomination?  Anything at all that —

THE PRESIDENT:  I won’t get into that game.  I’ll only tell you this: This is one of the highest quality people that I’ve ever met, and everybody that knows him says the same thing.  And these are all false — to me, these are false accusations in certain cases.  And certain cases, even the media agrees with that.

     I can only say that, what they’ve done to this man is incredible.  You know, it’s very interesting — I pick a lot of judges.  I have 145 judges I will be picking by the end of a fairly short period of time because President Obama wasn’t big on picking judges.  When I got there, I said, “How is this possible?”  I have 145 — including court of appeals — judges.  And they just didn’t do it.  You know why?  They got tired.  They got complacent.  Something happened.  I have 145 judges. 

     Everybody wants to be a federal judge.  Not just a Supreme Court judge, I’m talking about court of appeals; I’m talking about district court.  I don’t think they’re going to want to so much.  I’ll be calling people, and we’ll have people calling people that do this.  And people are going to be scared because we could say it about you, “Thirty-five years ago, you met some…” — and you might know — you might not know what’s going on. 

What is going on?  Why did they wait so long?  Why did Senator Feinstein wait until the hearings were over and make this case?  Why didn’t she bring it right at the beginning?  When you ask about, as an example, the FBI — why didn’t they bring this right at the beginning, during the hearing?  You would have had all the time in the world for the FBI.  It would have been fine.

Now the FBI, as you know, did investigate this time, as they have five or six other times.  And they did a very thorough investigation.  But this is a big con job.  And I would love to be in the room with the Democrats, close the door — you guys are all away, outside, waiting.  And Schumer and his buddies are all in there laughing how they fooled you all.  Let’s just stop them.  A big fat con.

Q    But, Mr. President, if I could follow up.  You have daughters.  Can you understand why a victim of sexual assault would not report it at the time?  Don’t you understand —

THE PRESIDENT:  People are going to have to make a decision.  Thirty-six years, there’s no charge.  All of a sudden, the hearings are over and the rumors start coming out.

And then you have this other con artist, Avenatti, come out with another beauty today.  I only say that you have to look at the facts.  The senators are very capable people.  They’re very good people.  I know many of them.  They’re friends of mine.  These are very talented, very good people.  And they’re going to vote.  They’re going to believe what they believe.I can — when I look at what’s happened to the reputation of a great gentleman — a great intellect; a brilliant man; somebody that has a chance to be one of our great Supreme Court Justices in history, intellectually — I think it’s a shame.

Donald Trump press conference, Lotte Hotel, NYC, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuba

Q    Mr. President, yesterday at the speech at the U.N., you spoke about how Venezuela’s problem was because of Cuba and the Castros — how they went in there and they brought socialism and communism to Venezuela, and now to Nicaragua as well. Mr. President, are you going to be more proactive now against Cuba as well?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been very proactive against Cuba.  I don’t like what’s happening in Cuba.  As you know, President Obama gave them a pass and I didn’t like it.  Neither do Cuban people based in Miami and based in our country that came from Cuba and suffered in Cuba. 

     I don’t like what he did.  I’ve ended much of it — most of it.  I don’t like what’s happening in Cuba, and I certainly don’t like what’s happening in Venezuela.

Q    You said also that you had a call-to-action to ask the leaders around the world to also end socialism.  Would you like to be recognized as —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I wouldn’t say that socialism has been working really well around the world, okay.  You can take a look at Venezuela as your number one — your number one — I guess, the one that is most obvious.  But you take a look around the world, socialism is not exactly riding high.

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Standing By His Men

Q    Why is it, Mr. President, that you always seem to side with the accused and not the accuser?  You have three women here who are all making allegations, who are all asking that their stories be heard.  And, you know, if you look at the case of Roy Moore, if you look at the case of one of your staffers, you seem to, time and again, side with the accused and not the accuser.  Is that because of the many allegations that you’ve had made against you over the years?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I wasn’t happy with Roy Moore.  Let’s get that straight.  But Roy Moore was a Republican candidate —

Q    But you stood by him.

THE PRESIDENT:  — and I would have rather had a Republican candidate win.  I was very happy with Luther Strange, who was a terrific man from Alabama, but Luther Strange had a lot of things going against him.

As far as women, whether it’s a man or a woman, these are — you know, it can happen the other way.  Allegations can go the other way also.  You understand that.  And whether it was a man or a woman, 30 years ago, 36 years ago — in fact, they don’t even know how many years ago because nobody knows what the time is.  That’s a long time.

And I could pick, as an example — hopefully I won’t have to do it as a replacement because hopefully this is going to go very well on Thursday.  It’s going to go very well on Monday, or Saturday, or Sunday, or whenever they vote.  But I could pick a woman and she could have charges made from many years ago also.

Q    First of all, do you think these women — all three of them are liars?  Yes or no?

THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t tell you.  I have to watch tomorrow.  I have to read.  I just heard about one a little while ago.  I can tell you her lawyer is a low life, okay?  So I can’t tell you whether or not they’re liars until I hear them.

I don’t know what happened today because I’ve been very busy with Japan, with South Korea, with China, and about seven other countries, as you know — and I chaired the Security Council.

So I don’t know about today’s person that came forward.  I do know about the lawyer.  And you don’t get much worse — bad reputation, too.  Take a look at his past.

So, as far as the other women are concerned, I’m going to see what happens tomorrow.  I’m going to be watching — you know, believe it or not.  I’m going to see what’s said.  It’s possible that they will be convincing.

Now, with all of that being said, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been, for many years, one of the most respected people in Washington.  He’s been on — I guess you’d call it the second highest court.  And every single person knows him; a lot of people know him well. And those people don’t believe what’s going on.  I can always be convinced.  I have to hear it.

Q    It sounds like what you’re saying is, there is a situation, there is a scenario under which you would withdraw Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.  Is that correct?  And have you talked about that with him?

THE PRESIDENT:  If I thought he was — if I thought he was guilty of something like this, yeah sure.

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to watch.  I want to see.  I hope I can watch.  I’m meeting with a lot of countries tomorrow, but I will certainly, in some form, be able to watch.  And I’ll also rely on some very fair and talented Republican senators who — look, if we brought George Washington here and we said, “We have George Washington,” the Democrats would vote against him, just so you understand. 

And he may have had a bad past, who knows, you know.  (Laughter.)  He may have had some, I think, accusations made.  Didn’t he have a couple of things in his past?  George Washington would be voted against 100 percent by Schumer and the con artists.  I mean 100 percent.  One hundred percent. 

So it really doesn’t matter from their standpoint.  That’s why when John asked about the FBI — if the FBI did the most thorough investigation in the history of the FBI, and they found him to be 100-percent perfect, he would lose every single vote.

Now, if the Republicans win tomorrow, I think you’re going to get some votes from the Democrats.  You know why?  Because — we all know why — because it’s called politics.  Then you’ll probably get some votes.

Q    Has there ever been an instance when you’ve given the benefit of the doubt to a woman?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve known them.  Hallie, I’ve know them for a long time and — a lot of these people.  A lot of people.  And some I’ve been disappointed with.  I have been disappointed with some.  Others, like — you know, there are charges that are pretty weak. 

But I’ve known people for a long time.  I never saw them do anything wrong.  I never saw them do anything wrong.  And there are some that probably — I agree.  I can tell you there are some that I — I’ve been watching for a long time.  And in a couple of cases, they weren’t Republicans.  In a lot of cases, they were not; they were exactly the opposite.  

But I’ve been watching them for a long time.  And I knew for a long time these were not good people.  And they were never brought up. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I Was Accused…Fake News

Q    How have your personal experiences being accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct — 

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been accused.  I’ve been accused.  False accusations. 

Q    — right, how have those — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me.  I’ve been accused.  And I was accused by — I believe, it was — four women.  You can check with Sean Hannity.  You can check with Fox, because they covered it very strongly — who got paid. 

Q    And how has (inaudible) — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me.  Excuse me.  I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me.  We caught them, and the mainstream media refused to put it on television.  They refused to even write about it.  

     There were four women, and maybe more — I think the number is four or five.  But one had a mortgage paid off her house, $52,000.  Another one had other things happen.  And the one that reported it, I believe, was offered $750,000 to say bad things about me — and she is the one that reported it.  This woman is incredible.  She reported it, instead of taking the money.  

     So I’ve had numerous accusations about me.  

     Q    Right. 

     THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, they made false statements about me, knowing they were false.  I never met them.  I never met these people.  And, what did they do?  What did they do? 

     They took money in order to say bad things.  I’ve had stories written in the New York Times — front page — about four women.  The whole top center front page of the New York Times.  I think it was four big pictures.  

I said, “Wow.  That’s a big thing.  What’s that?”  These were women that were quoted saying bad things about me.  Not the worst things about me, but bad things.  And I said, “Gee, that’s too bad.”  I knew them a long time ago — 15 years ago, 20 years ago.  I said, “That’s too bad.  I’m surprised at them.”  

And then all of a sudden I see them on television — nothing to do with me.  The next day or a day later, they were incensed.  They said, “Donald Trump is a nice guy.  We never said this.  The New York Times did false reporting.  They’re fake news.”  And you know what?  The New York Times would not report that their story was fake.  

     These women said great things. Not only did they not say the bad stuff, they said great things about me.  Front page.  And those women — they’re incredible women — they went on television — and they didn’t want to, and I didn’t ask them.  And they said, “The New York Times made it up.  They gave false quotes.”  And they went on a lot of shows.  They were really incensed and they couldn’t believe it.  

That’s why people know that a lot of the news is fake.  And a lot of the people sitting here are fake.  But 20 percent of them are wonderful.  Okay? 

Q    If I could just actually ask my question, Mr. Trump.  I — you didn’t let me ask my question.  

THE PRESIDENT:  You’ve been asking a question for 10 minutes, all right?

Q    No, you interrupted my question.

THE PRESIDENT:  Please sit down. Please.

Q    I’m asking you —

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.  Go ahead. 

Q    — how did those impact your opinions on the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it does impact my opinion.  You know why?  Because I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me.  I’m a very famous person, unfortunately.  I’ve been a famous person for a long time.  But I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me — really false charges.  

I know friends that have had false charges.  People want fame.  They want money.  They want whatever.  So when I see it, I view it differently than somebody sitting home watching television, where they say, “Oh, Judge Kavanaugh…” this or that.  

It’s happened to me many times.  I’ve had many false charges; I had a woman sitting in an airplane and I attacked her while people were coming onto the plane.  And I have a number-one bestseller out?  I mean it was total phony story.  There are many of them.  

So when you say, does it affect me in terms of my thinking with respect to Judge Kavanaugh?  Absolutely.  Because I’ve had it many times.  

And if the news would have reported these four people — I couldn’t believe it.  When I heard that they caught these four people, I said, “Wow.  That’s a big story.”  And it was — for Fox.  Okay. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Accuses China of Meddling in 2018 Elections

Q    Earlier today and just now, you made a significant allegation against the Chinese government.  You suggested that the Chinese had meddled in or are meddling in the 2018 midterm elections. 

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s what I hear. 

Q    What evidence do you have of that, sir?  Is there a national intelligence estimate, for example, that you’re prepared to put forward? 

THE PRESIDENT:  We have evidence.  We have evidence.  It’ll come out.  Yeah, I can’t tell you now, but it came — it didn’t come out of nowhere, that I can tell you.  

Now, if you — they’ve actually admitted that they’re going after farmers.  I mean, I think most of you can cover that. 

I like that you’re shaking your head, “yes.”  I’m going to ask you the next question because of that. Okay?  It’s probably going to be the killer of all questions.  (Laughter.)  But let me just explain —  

Q    But why make the charges now —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no.  Let me — 

Q    — if you’re not prepared to come forward with the evidence, sir? 

THE PRESIDENT:  China, now, put on $250 billion, and they’re paying 25 percent on that.  They’re paying billions and billions.  This has never happened to China.  And I like China.  And I like President Xi a lot.  I think he’s a friend of mine.  He may not be a friend of mine anymore, but he — I think he probably respects — 

From what I hear — if you look at Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China — he was on a good show — I won’t mention the name of the show — recently.  And he was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.  He said, “Donald.  Donald Trump.  They don’t know what to do.”  It never happened.

Well, one thing they are trying to do is they are trying to convince people to go against Donald Trump.  Because a normal, regular, political person that has no concept of what the hell he’s doing would let China continue to take $500 billion a year out of our country and rebuild their country.  

I mean, they were building 29 massive bridges like the George Washington Bridge.  They’re building things that we don’t build anymore.  But we’re starting to build them again.  

And our economy now is hotter than it’s ever been. I don’t know you if you saw the confidence levels this morning that just came out.  Fantastic.  

And in all fairness to the Fed raising rates, they’re raising rates because we’ve never done like we’re doing now.  And one of the things that is nice about the rates — the people that were hurt the worst by these zero interest rates and, you know — 

When President Obama had an economy that was — it was the worst comeback since the Great Depression and all that — you’ve all heard that.  But remember, he was playing with zero-interest money.  He was playing with funny money.  That’s easy.  I’m playing with fairly expensive money. 

So when he does that, the people that benefit are people that actually — in their whole life, they would save 10, 15, 20 percent of their salary and put it in the bank.  Those people got killed because they put their money in the bank.  They were going to live off the interest, and there was no interest.  

Now, those people are starting to get interest.  And those are the people, frankly, that deserve to — you know, they did a great job.  The people that did it right, the people that did the best job got hurt the most.  

So in one sense I like it, but basically I’m a low-interest-rate person.  I hate to tell you.  

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Fire Rod Rosenstein?

Q    Are you planning to fire Rod Rosenstein?  

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m talking to him.  We’ve had a good talk.  He said he never said it.  He said he doesn’t believe it.  He said he has a lot of respect for me, and he was very nice and we’ll see.  And he’s a member of the Trump administration, in that sense; it’s the Justice Department.  

I would certainly prefer not doing that.  There was no collusion.  There was no obstruction — I mean, unless you call obstruction the fact that I fight back.  I do fight back.  I really fight back.  I mean, if you call that obstruction, that’s fine. 

But there’s no obstruction.  There’s no collusion.  I’m going to meet with him tomorrow.  I may call Rod tonight or tomorrow and ask for a little bit of a delay to the meeting, because I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of this very important Supreme Court pick.  So I don’t want it competing and hurting the decision — one way or the other decision.  Again, I want to hear what she has to say.  

But I want to do — so I may delay that.  I’m going to see.  I don’t want to do anything that’s going to conflict with that.  But my preference would be to keep him, and to let him finish up.  

You know, I call it a “witch hunt.”  And it is a witch hunt.  If you look at the FBI statements with Strzok and his lover Lisa Page.  If you look at all of the things that have gone on in the FBI.  If you look at McCabe taking $700,000 from a Hillary Clinton-PAC essentially run by Terry McAuliffe, who’s her best friend in the world, and he gives them hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And he’s in charge of her campaign, and his wife is getting all of this money to run — she lost — to run.  I mean, what’s going on?  

If you look at the horrible statements, like “Way to go, Page.  Great story you put into a newspaper.”  Essentially, now we’ll go and investigate that group.  It’s terrible.  We have caught people doing things that are terrible. 

I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein.  Much prefer.  Many people say I have the right to absolutely fire him.  He said he did not say it.  He said he does not believe that.  And nobody in this room believes it 

By the way, I deal with the people in this room.  I was with Mike Pompeo before, and we were dealing, at a very high level, with Japan. And I was saying things that nobody in the room even understood.  And I said them a long time ago, and I was right.  He said, “That’s not the 25th Amendment that I’m looking at.”  I think I can say that from Mike. 

Q    So you don’t think anyone in your administration has ever discussed using the 25th Amendment against you? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think so.  Well, yeah — enemies, sure.  You use anything you can.  

Q    Was it in your administration or your Cabinet? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey, you use anything they can.  They’re not in love with me.  They’re not going to beat me in the election; they know that.  They’re not going to beat me.  The people that I’m looking at are total lightweights.  I dream of running against those people.  

Q    But within your administration? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Maybe they’ll come up with somebody that’s not — they’re not going to beat me. I’m against what they want to do.  I’m in favor of law enforcement.  I’m in favor of safety and security, and low taxes.  I want low taxes.  

I want borders.  We’re getting another $1.6 billion in borders.  I want borders.  We’ve spent $3.2 [billion] and we’re getting another $1.6 [billion].  And then eventually, we’re getting the whole thing and we’ll complete the wall.

They don’t want that.  They don’t want that.  They don’t want the things that I have.  

Now, I must say, I know many of the Democrats.  They’ll say things and then wink at me.  And again, it’s the same old story.  They’ll say things; they don’t mean it.  Its politics.  The reason they don’t want me is because they want to run the show.  They want it.  It’s power.  It’s whatever you want to call it.  But what they’ve done here is a disgrace.  A total disgrace.  

And what they do — I know, it’s sort of interesting — in one case, they say, “He’s a fascist.  He’s taking over the government.  He’s the most powerful President ever.  He’s a horrible human being.  He wants to take over the entire government, and he’s going to do it.  We can’t stop him.”  That didn’t work.  

The next week, he said, “Uh, he’s incompetent.”  I said, “Well, wait a minute.”  In one case, I’m taking over the world.   And in the other case, “He’s incompetent.”  They tried that for a week.  That didn’t work.  

Look, these are very dishonest people.  These are con artists.  And the press knows it, but the press doesn’t write it. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

No Timeline for North Korea 

Q    You’re getting letters from Chairman Kim.  Why do you need a second summit with the North Korean leader so soon?  And what do you — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Because he’d like it. 

Q    What would it be for? 

THE PRESIDENT:  So I’ve received two letters from Chairman Kim.  At some point, I’ll, you know, give these letters — they’re incredible letters.  They’re letters that are magnificent in the sense of his feeling for wanting to get this done.  I really believe he wants to get it done.  I may be wrong. 

I heard somebody on a certain network last night — I won’t mention which one — say, “Why has President Trump given so much to North Korea?”  I said, “Wait a minute.”  I asked Sarah Huckabee, “Please call this person.”  I gave nothing — other than I met.  What did I give them?  

I didn’t do what Obama did:  Give them $1.8 billion in cash to get back four hostages.  I got back our hostages; I never paid them anything.  I haven’t paid them 10 cents.  

But he wants to make a deal and I’d like to make a deal.  We actually have a very good relationship together — a lot different than the last time I was at the United Nations.  That was a little bit rough.  

Don’t forget, that time, they said, “Oh, Trump is saying these horrible things.  He’s going to get us into a war.”  You were going to have a war.  If I wasn’t elected, you’d be in war.  And President Obama essentially said the same thing. He was ready to go to war.  

You would have had a war, and you would have lost millions, not thousands.  You would have lost millions of people.  Seoul has 30 million people — 40 miles and 30 miles from this very dangerous border.  If I wasn’t elected, you would have had a war. 

President Obama thought you had to go to war.  You know how close he was to pressing the trigger for war?  Millions of people.  With me, nobody is talking about that.  Nobody is talking about that. 

We have a very good relationship.  He likes me.  I like him.  We get along.  He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters.  When I showed one of the letters — just one — to Prime Minister Abe, he said, “This is actually a groundbreaking letter.  This is an incredible — this is a historic letter.”  And it is a historic letter.  It’s a beautiful — it’s a beautiful piece of art.  And I think we’re going to make a deal. 

Will we make a deal, Steve?  I don’t really know.  But I think we’re going to.  

In the meantime — and I’ve said it a thousand — I don’t want to bore you: no rockets, no missiles, no nuclear tests — you know, for over a year, where you haven’t seen.  

Before I got here, everybody in this room thought you were going to war.  And then what happened — it was funny — they said, “He was terrible.  He was so rough with Chairman Kim — Kim Jong Un.  He was so rough.  It’s terrible.  He’s going to cause…”  

Well, I had a great meeting with President Putin.  And on that one, they said, “He was too soft with President Putin.”  I had a great meeting with the President.  It lasted for two hours.  We discussed everything: Ukraine, Syria, Israel and Israel’s protection.  We had a great meeting.  They wanted me to end up in a boxing match.  

And you know what?  If I was killer-tough with President Putin, they would have said, “He was too tough.”  You can’t win with these people, but you just keep going.  In the meantime, we’re doing well. 

Q    How long do you think it should take North Korea to denuclearize? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know.  I don’t want to get into — 

Q    We’ve seen estimates of one year, two year — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Steve, I don’t want to get into the time game.  You know why?  I told Mike Pompeo, I said, “Mike, don’t get into the time game.”  We stopped them.  They’re taking down plants.  They’re taking down a lot of different testing areas.  They’re going to take down some more.  You’ll be hearing about that very soon.  I don’t want to go ahead of myself, but you’ll be hearing about it soon.  They have no interest right now in testing nuclear.  

You know, we had a case just about when I was coming into office — you all remember it — where there was a massive — they thought it was an earthquake.  A mountain moved over an inch and a half.  We’re talking about mountains.  You know, North Korea is very mountainous.  Beautiful land.  Beautiful.  This mountain actually shifted.  It shifted.  And somebody thought it was an earthquake.  And then they found out, no, this was nuclear testing.  Shifted a mountain.  Now I’m talking about serious stuff.  Serious size. 

When I came in, and certainly before I came in — and even at the beginning of mine because when I was having rhetorical contests — you know, contests, really, I guess you could call it — with Chairman Kim, which we both smile at now and we laugh at.  But everybody thought that was a horrible thing.  

We’ve had — many Presidents were unable to do anything, anything at all with North Korea.  We now have a good relationship.  We have a good relationship.  And most importantly, all of the things that you’ve been hearing about –the horror stories — in my opinion, they’re gone.  

Now, could they start up again?  Yes.  I’m a deal guy.  Could they start?  Yeah.  Could be that we don’t work it out. 

I think — I have it right here — I think that what we’ve done behind the scenes, which nobody really knows about — and I don’t blame you for not knowing about, you know, personal letters, private letters.  But saying they want to get it done.  We know much more than the media for a change.  Much more.  But if you saw what’s going on behind the scenes, I think you’d very impressed.  

We were a country going to war.  I really believe that President Obama would admit that he said it’s by far his biggest problem.  When I sat with him, prior to going to office — going into office, he said to me that’s by far the biggest problem.  And he said to me that he was very close to going into war.  

And millions of people — not — you know, I — they say, “Oh, thousands of people…”  No, no, no, not thousands.  Millions of people would have been killed.  And that could have left — you’re right next to China.  You’re right — that could have been a world war very easily. 

Right now, we’re in a great position.  I don’t want to play the time game.  I told Mike Pompeo, “Don’t let them do that to you.”  I haven’t given anything.  

And all of a sudden — we got back, it was a few weeks ago.  I think we were back like two and a half months from the summit, which was a great success.  And people are screaming, “What’s taking so long?”  I said, “Oh, I get it.”  You got to understand the media.  I’ve been dealing with the media all my life.  Too much.  Too much.  

They’re screaming and I saw that.  And our guys were — and not Mike — but our guys were being, “Oh well, we’re working as fast…”  I said, “I got all the time in the world.  I don’t have to rush it.”  There’s no — you know, secession of sanctions.  We got the sanctions on.  I didn’t take any sanctions off.  

I did see a reporter last night — a guy I like, personally, a lot.  And he asked a question to President Moon of South Korea.  He said, “Why did the President give so much?”  I didn’t give anything.  I gave nothing.  What have I given, other than some time?  Yes, I flew to Singapore.  We had a meeting.  

Now, giving would be if I took the sanctions off.  I didn’t want to do — if you asked General Mattis, for a year and a half, I said, “Why don’t we stop these ridiculous,” in my opinion, “the military games?”  I call them the “military games.”  If I told you how much those games cost — and, frankly, I told South Korea, “You should be paying for these games.”  We pay for them. 

They say, “Well, we fly the planes in from a short distance away.”  I said, “Where is that?”  “Guam.”  “Oh, huh.  How long a trip is that?”  “Seven hours.”  “Oh, great.”  We’re flying these massive bombers and everything.  I’ve wanted to stop this for a long time.  I consider that an asset.  

But we’ve done — we’re saving, by the way — just for the taxpayer, we’re saving a fortune.  And if we need them, we can start them up immediately.  If I think we need them, I’ll start them before the generals will start them.  

The fact is, this reporter said that.  I said, “What have we done?  I haven’t given anything.”  And we’re really onto the cusp.  I think we’re really going to do something that’s going to be very important. 

But we’re not playing the time game.  If it takes two years, three years, or five months, it doesn’t matter.  There’s no nuclear testing and there’s no testing of rockets. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Democrats’ Con Job

Q    Are you at all concerned at the message that has been sending — being sent to the women who are watching this when you use language like “con job” in relation to allegations of sexual assault? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I’ve used much worse language in my life than “con job.”  That’s like probably the nicest phrase I’ve ever used.  I mean, con job — it is.  It’s a con job.  You know, confidence — it’s a confidence job.  But they short — it’s a con job by the Democrats.  They know it. 

Q    What about the message that’s being sent to women who are watching? 

THE PRESIDENT:  They did the same thing with the Russia investigation.  They tried to convince people that I had something to do with Russia.  There was no collusion.  

Think of it.  I’m in Wisconsin.  I’m in Michigan.  I say, “Gee, we’re not doing well.”  I won both those states.  “We’re not doing well.  Uh, let me call the Russians to help.”  Does anybody really believe that?  It’s a con job. 

And I watch these guys — Little Adam Schiff, and all of the guys.  He takes a call from a Russian who turned out to be a faker.  You know, he was a comedian or something.  “This is so-and-so calling for…” — he took the call.  Why is the taking a call from a Russian? 

Senator Warner took a call from a Russian.  He was a comedian or something, but he said, “We have pictures of President Trump.”  “Oh, where can I get them?”  If we ever did that, it would be like a big deal. 

Yeah, it’s a con job.  And it’s not a bad term.  It’s not a bad term at all. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ll tell you one thing I can say: I’ve had a lot of people talking about this to me, with respect to what’s happening, because it’s a horrible precedent.  

I’m going to have to get other judges and other Supreme Court judges, possibly.  I could have a lot of the Supreme Court judges, more than two.  And when I called up Brett Kavanaugh — spoke to him and his family — and told them that I chose them, they were so happy and so honored.  It was as though — I mean, the biggest thing that’s ever happened.  And I understand that — U.S. Supreme Court.  

I don’t want to be in a position where people say, “No, thanks.  No, thanks.  I don’t want to.”  You know, “I spoke to somebody 38 years ago, and it may not be good.”  We have a country to run.  We want the best talent in the world. 

But I’ll tell you this:  The people that have complained to me about it the most — about what’s happening — are women.  Women are very angry.  

You know, I got 52 percent with women.  Everyone said, “This couldn’t happen — 52 percent.”  Women are so angry.  And I, frankly, think that — I think they like what the Republicans are doing, but I think they would have liked to have seen it go a lot faster.  But give them their day in court.  Let her have her day in court.  Let somebody else have a day in court. 

But the ones that I find — I mean, I have men that don’t like it, but I have women that are incensed at what’s going on.  I’ve always said women are smarter than men.  I’ve said that a lot and I mean it.  But women are incensed at what’s going on.

DDonald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I Like Kurds A Lot

Q    Rudaw Media Network from Kurdistan region, north of Iraq.  I’m a Kurd.  Sir —

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Good.  Great people. Are you a Kurd?

They’re great people.  They’re great fighters.  I like them a lot.  Let’s go.  I like this question so far.

Q    Mr. President, you always say you support your allies.  Kurds right now, after the defeat of ISIS, are under a lot of pressure in Syria and in Iraq by many adversaries.  

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s true.

Q    What will you do to elevate their position to support them in order — after they help the United States to defeat ISIS?  Thank you very much. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we are helping them a lot and we’ve been very friendly with them.  And, as you know, we’ve fought side-by-side.  And we have defeated ISIS, essentially, a very short while ago, in the Middle East.  And we did it with a lot of help from the Kurds.  And they are — they’re great fighters.  

You know, some people are great fighters and some people aren’t.  The Kurds are great fighters.  And they’re great, great people.  And we’re going to be working — we’re discussing that situation exactly right now. 

Q    What will you do to support them, sir, (inaudible) Syria? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m just telling you, we’re going to be discussing that situation.  We have already started discussing that situation.  But we have tremendous support from the Kurds in defeating ISIS.  Okay? 

Q    And about Syria:  Sir, in your speech you did not mention —

THE PRESIDENT:  Uh, yes.  Go.  Uh oh.

Donald Trump press conference, Lotte Hotel, NYC, Sept. 26, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Prospects for NAFTA

Q    Did you reject a one-on-one meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I did.  

Q    Why? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Because his tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him, “Forget about it.”  And frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada.  That’s the motherlode.  That’s the big one.  We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. 

We don’t like their representative very much.  They’ve taken advantage — I love Canada, by the way.  I have so many friends.  I have everybody, and so many friends.  But that has nothing to do with this; I’m representing the United States.  

Mexico was totally — I mean, they were great.  By the way, the new President has been great.  The deal is done.  Now, it has to go through Congress and, you know, a lot things have to happen.  But we’ve done — Bob Lighthizer, who’s here someplace.  Where’s Bob?  Bob.  Bob Lighthizer has done a great job of negotiating, as they have.  But the deal is done.  It’s up to Congress. 

THE PRESIDENT:  But Canada has treated us very badly.  They’ve treated our farmers in Wisconsin, and New York state, and a lot of other states very badly.  

Dairy products — 300 percent.  Three hundred percent.  How do you sell a dairy product at 300 percent?  The answer is:  You don’t.  What it is, is a barrier.  It’s — basically, they’re saying, “We don’t have any barriers.  By the way, it’s 300 percent.”  So you don’t send it in, because you can’t compete.  

So Canada has a long way to go.  I must be honest with you, we’re not getting along at all with their negotiators.  We think their negotiators have taken advantage of our country for a long time.  We had people that didn’t know what they were doing.  And that’s why we had — over the last five or six years, if you average it out, we had $800 billion a year in trade losses.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s not going to happen. 

Q    What does that mean for NAFTA?  Will you be pulling out of NAFTA?     

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t like NAFTA.  I never liked it.  It’s been very bad for the United States.  It’s been great for Canada.  It’s been great for Mexico.  Very bad for us.  

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not going to use the name “NAFTA.”  I refuse to use it.  I’ve seen thousands of plants and factories close.  I’ve seen millions of jobs lost to auto companies that moved.  I mean, Mexico has 25 percent of our auto business now because of NAFTA. 

Under our deal, it’s not going to happen anymore.  I hate to tell you, it’s not.  We’re going to keep companies.  And I told the Mexicans, I said, “We have to keep companies.”  But they’re getting a lot, also.  They’re getting other things.  They’re getting a lot of good things.  Mexico made a very good deal. 

But with Canada, it’s very tough.  What we’re doing is if we made a deal with Canada — which is, you know, a good chance still.  But I’m not making anything near what they want to do.  We’re going to be fair.  

Q    But you’re — are you going to notify Congress of pulling out of NAFTA? 

THE PRESIDENT:  What we’re probably going to do is call it the “USMC.”  Like the United States Marine Corps, which I love.  General Kelly likes it even more.  Where’s General Kelly?  He likes that.  “USMC” — which would be U.S., Mexico, Canada.  But it’ll probably or possibly be just “USM.”  It’ll be United States and Mexico.  

Q    Yes or no, are you going to — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Canada will come along.  Now, if Canada doesn’t make a deal with us, we’re going to make a much better deal.  We’re going to tax the cars that come in.  We will put billions and billions of dollars into our Treasury.  And frankly, we’ll be very happy because it’s actually more money than you can make, under any circumstance, with making a deal.  Okay? 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Kurds, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey

Q    What will be the U.S.A. relations with the Kurds —

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I thought I just answered that.

Q    — post-ISIS.  Post-ISIS.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  We’re trying to get along very well.  We do get along great with the Kurds.  We’re trying to help them a lot.  Don’t forget, that’s their territory.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have to help them.  I want to help them.

Go ahead, what’s next?

Q    Then, what —

THE PRESIDENT:  They fought with us.  They fought with us.  They died with us.  They died.  We lost — tens of thousands of Kurds died fighting ISIS.  They died for us and with us.  And for themselves.  They died for themselves.  But they’re great people.  And we have not forget — we don’t forget — I don’t forget.  What happens someday later — but I can tell you that I don’t forget.  These are great people.

Q    About Iran, Mr. President.  About Iran, one question: What is your clear plan to stop Iranian influence in Iraq, in Syria, and especially in Iraqi Kurdistan? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I think there’s been no greater change — other than maybe China, because China — unfortunately, their markets have dropped — would you say, 30 percent in the last four months, right?  I think I watched you recently when you said that.  I said, “I think she’s wrong.  I think it’s actually 32.  But that’s okay.”  But a lot.  

There’s been no — other than maybe that, but even that.  Because China is a very special place.  And Iran is a very special place.  But I think there’s been no country that’s changed so much as Iran.  

In the last six months, since I took off the horrible, horrible Iran nuclear deal, as they called it — one of the dumbest deals ever made.  As an example, why didn’t they take care of Yemen in the deal?  Why didn’t they take care of Syria in the deal?  You know what Kerry said — the reason?  “It was too complicated.”  

We’re giving $150 billion, we paid $1.8 billion in cash — cash.  This whole room would be filled up with hundred-dollar bills.  And you’d need probably five rooms like this.  But you have $1.8 billion in cash.  Why didn’t we take care of Yemen?  Why didn’t we take care of Syria and other?  And he said, “Because it was too complicated.”  Well, you just gave all your cards.  You gave them $150 billion.  And now Yemen’s a mess, but it’s getting better.  

And Syria’s a mess.  And I was responsible — and I hope it stays that way — when I put out on social media, a few weeks ago, about Idlib Province.  I said, “Don’t do it.”  And I’ll tell you, it happened — where I was at a meeting with a lot of supporters, and a woman stood up and she said, “There’s a province in Syria with 3 million people.  Right now, the Iranians, the Russians, and the Syrians are surrounding their province.  And they’re going to kill my sister.  And they’re going to kill millions of people in order to get rid of 25,000 or 35,000 terrorists or enemies of theirs.”  But I think we can call them terrorists. 

And I said, “That’s not going to happen.”  I didn’t hear of Idlib Province.  And I came back to New York, and I picked up the failing New York Times — I hate to admit it was the New York Times, but it was the failing New York Times.  And I opened it up — not on the front page, but there was a very big story.  I said, “Wow, that’s the same story that the woman told me that I found hard to believe.”  Because why would — how would anyone do that with 3 million people?  And it said that they were being surrounded, and they were going in and starting — literally, the next day, they were going to drop bombs all over the place and perhaps kill millions of people in order to get 35,000 terrorists.  

And I put out on social media and elsewhere — I gave Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, everybody these orders: “Don’t let it happen.”  I said, “Don’t let it happen.”  That doesn’t mean they can’t be selective.  They can’t be — you know, go in and they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do with terrorists.  I assume they’re terrorists.  But don’t kill millions of people.  

And it stopped.  You saw that.  Nobody’s going to give me credit, but that’s okay.  That’s okay.  Because the people the people know. 

I have had more Syrians thank me for that.  This was about four weeks ago, I put that out.  I said, “They’re surrounding a city of 3 million people.  They’re going to start bombing the city.  Don’t let it happen.”  And I meant it, too.  I meant it.  And millions of people have been saved.  

And I gave, today, great credit to Iran.  I don’t know if you heard that.  I gave great credit to Iran, to Russia, and to Syria for not doing it.  

Now I hope it’s going to be surgical — meaning go in and do — it’s lengthy and everything else.  And they possibly have to do it.  But I think millions of people would have been killed.  And that would have been a shame.  

And hopefully — and I have to tell you, Turkey has been a big help.  Turkey has been great.  Turkey has helped us very much with that whole situation. 

Q    Touching back on Iran: Of course, this week, you put out a call to action to other countries to rally with America, to put pressure on Iran.  Rouhani is still calling for the U.S. to come back into the old deal.  But after meeting with world leaders this week, did you make any progress towards a potential new deal?  

THE PRESIDENT:  Doesn’t matter what world leaders think on Iran.  Iran’s going to come back to me and they’re going to make a good deal, I think.  Maybe not.  Deals — you never know.  

But they’re suffering greatly.  They’re having riots in every city, far greater than they were during the green period with President Obama.  Far greater.  When President Obama stuck up for government, not the people.  You probably would have had a much different Iran had he not done that.  But I’m sticking up for the people.  I am with the people of Iran.  

But here’s the thing:  They have rampant inflation.  Their money is worthless.  Everything is going wrong.  They have riots in the street.  You can’t buy bread.  You can’t do anything.  It’s a disaster.  At some point, I think they’re going to want to come back, and they’re going to say, “Hey, can we do something?”  

And I’m very simple; I just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons.  That’s all.  Is that too much to ask?  I don’t want them to have nuclear weapons.  

I want them to have a great economy.  I want them to sell so much oil so that the oil prices — I’m not happy with OPEC.  I told them, “I’m not happy with OPEC.”  We take care of all these people, we defend them.  They wouldn’t be there for two weeks if it wasn’t for me, and the United States, and a much stronger armed forces than it was.  Because our armed forces was depleted.  We had old equipment.  

Now, we have — hey, you know better than anybody — $700 billion and $716 billion.  We have the most incredible new jets and everything.  We need it.  Not that I want to spend it, although it is jobs.  It’s all made in the United States.  

But Iran has to come back, and they have to talk.  And I’m not doing this from strength or weakness.  I’m just saying, at some point, I think they’re going to have to come back.  

If you look at what’s going on, companies are leaving left and right.  Mercedes Benz just left.  They’re all leaving.  They don’t want to be in Iran.  Because they have a choice: Do they want to be with Iran, or do they want to be with us?  

And we have, by — we picked up $10 trillion since my election.  We were being caught by China.  Now it’s going the other way.  People can’t believe it.  People have never seen this situation with China.  Everything’s always been — for 20 years, “Oh, China is so great.  China is so great.”  You don’t hear that so much anymore.  I love China; I think they’re great.  But you don’t hear that so much anymore.  You know who’s great now?  We’re great now.  

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Okay, how about just a couple more.  Now, I could be doing — I could be doing this all day long.  I could be doing this all day long.  Should we continue for a little while?  It doesn’t matter to me.  A couple of more.  I don’t care.

New York Times, come on.  New York Times.  The failing New York Times.  Stand up.  Go ahead.

Q    You’re talking about me, but (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I’m talking about the Times is failing.  You are far from failing.  Go ahead.

Q    Okay, but you’re not — you were pointing to me, so you meant me.  But I —

THE PRESIDENT:  The Times are very interesting, though.  The Times, I think they’re going to endorse me.  (Laughter.)  I think that ABC — I think — well, Fox — I like Fox.  I really do.

Q    Just to be sure —

THE PRESIDENT:  But I think ABC, CBS, NBC, the Times, the — they’re all going to endorse me, because if they don’t, they’re going out of business.  Can you imagine if you didn’t have me?

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Laughter in General Assembly? Fake News

Q    Yesterday, you were talking about your administration’s accomplishments at the United Nations, and a lot of the leaders laughed.  Why do you think they were laughing? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s fake news.  

Q    And what was that experience like for you?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  It was fake news.  And it was covered that way.  Okay.  So, I said that, since my election, our economy has become the hottest in the world.  Tax reductions, regulations, confidence levels are the highest in 18 years — really, soon to be historic.  Unemployment is the lowest in the history of our country.  You look at Black unemployment.  You look at Asian unemployment.  You look at women — 65 years.  The unemployment numbers are among the best we’ve ever had ever.  The numbers of new companies pouring into our country, which nobody thought was possible.  

And I said this.  And I was in front of a large group of highly professional people, most of whom are from either other countries or the United Nations — people that aren’t big into clapping, applauding, smiling.  And I heard a little rustle, as I said our country is now stronger than ever before.  It’s true.  I mean, it is true.  And I heard a little rustle.  And I said, “It’s true.”  And I heard smiles.  And I said, “Oh, I didn’t know there there’d be that kind…”  They weren’t laughing at me.  They were laughing with me.  We had fun.  That was not laughing at me. 

So the fake news said, “People laughed at President Trump.”  They didn’t laugh at me.  People had a good time with me.  We were doing it together.  We had a good time.  They respect what I’ve done.  

The United States is respected again.  The United States was not respected.  Everybody was taking advantage of us.  From jobs, and taking our companies, and not paying the price — to so many other things, even military protection.  

I told a number of countries over the last few days, I said, “Listen, you’re a very rich country.  We protect you.  Without our protection, you would have real problems.  You would have real problems.”  

THE PRESIDENT:  I said, “You should reimburse us for this protection.  Why are we protecting you?”  And do you want to know what they said after about two minutes of talking?  They agreed with me.  And you can ask this group of very talented people — they agreed with me.  

But they said — one of them said, “But Mr. President, nobody ever asked us for that.  They never asked us for that.”  Nobody has ever said, “You should pay.”  These are really wealthy countries.  

I mean, I’ll be honest, I just asked Japan.  I said, “We’re defending you.  You’re a very wealthy country.  You’re sending us millions of cars.  You’re making a fortune.  We have a tremendous trade deficit with you.  And we’re defending you, and we’re subsidizing your military with a massive amount of money.” 

I said it to South Korea.  We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea.  They’re a very wealthy — these are great countries.  These are very wealthy countries.  I said, “Why aren’t you reimbursing us for our costs?”  

And you know what?  They look at me, and they can’t even answer it, because there’s no answer.  If they’re a poor country and they needed protection, and people were going to die, I’m all for protecting them; I don’t want 10 cents.  But when wealthy countries that have massive trade surpluses with us — massive — and then on top of that, we’re paying for their military?  Or we’re paying for a lot of their military?  That doesn’t work.  

 

Kinship with Kavanaugh?

Q    Mr. President, you said you feel a kinship — you said you feel a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh and you — Mr. President, really quickly, you said you felt a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh.  You said that you also — your false allegations that you feel like were made against you make you feel like you don’t want to believe these women.  What message do you think that – 

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t say that.  Why do you say that? 

Q    So, please explain —

THE PRESIDENT:  Fake news.  

Q    Please explain — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Why — did I say that?  

Q    Well, can you please explain then what you’re talking about in your own false allegations?

THE PRESIDENT:  I said, exactly, “I look forward to watching her.”  I do want to hear what she says.  And maybe she’ll say — I could be convinced of anything.  Maybe, if she’ll say something — but in the meantime, I have to tell you, he’s one of the highest quality human beings.

He’s a tremendous man.  He’s a tremendous genius.  He’s a great intellect.  He was, I believe, number one at Yale.  Is that a correct statement?  Number one in his class at Yale.

Q    So you don’t feel a kinship with him?

THE PRESIDENT:  He was a great student in law.  He was — you know, I’ve heard his name.  I didn’t know him.  Didn’t know him.  Until this whole thing, I didn’t know him.  But I heard his name for 10 years.

And you know how I heard his name?  Everybody was saying he should be on the Supreme Court.  I said, “Who is he?”  “His name is Brett Kavanaugh.  And he should be — he’s the most brilliant person.  He’s the most brilliant lawyer.”  They were talking about him on the Supreme Court 10 years ago.  With all of that, I want to hear what she has to say.  Okay?

Q    But you said that you don’t feel — but you said that you feel like there have been numerous false allegations against you, and that because of that–

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I’ve had many false —

Q    — you feel that you understand what he might be going through.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve had many false statements against me.  And if the press would have reported it, I would have been very happy.  I think John Roberts would tell you that — you covered the story where the women were paid to say bad things about me.  Sean Hannity covered it.  

I will tell you, when I saw that on Sean Hannity, I actually called him.  Believe it or not, I don’t speak to him very much, but I respect him.  I called him.  I said, “This is the biggest story.  This is a big, big story.”  He agreed with me.  The next day, I picked up the papers.  There wasn’t one word about it.  The next day, I watched ABC news.  John, I watched NBC.  I watched CBS.  I didn’t watch CNN, but, next time, I’m going to.  (Laughter.) 

THE PRESIDENT:  I watched everything.  There wasn’t one story other than Fox.  And it’s a big story.  It’s a shame.  Okay.  Enough.  Thank you, though.

Jared Kushner has been Trump’s key representative on the Israel-Palestine issue. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Israel & Two-State Solution: US Embassy in Jerusalem a Bargain

Q   Today, you met with Bibi Netanyahu, from Israel.  And you brought up, actually, that you support a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli crisis there. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I do. 

Q    Can you give us any more preview of what this great deal, the peace deal (inaudible) — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’d love to be able to make a deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians.  You know, my whole life, I was told that’s the toughest deal.  And I disagree.  I think healthcare is probably tougher, okay?  You want to know the truth.  But it is tough.  But we’re going to take care of that, too.  And that’s going to get taken care of.  We’ve already taken care of a lot of it. 

But the whole — my life, I’ve always heard the deal between, as you know, Israel and the Palestinians, that’s like the toughest deal.  Every possible thing is tough about that.  I think we’re going to make a deal.  I think we’re going to make a deal.  

So, at one of our many meetings today, I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man who I have a lot of respect for.  A man who has been extremely nice to me — very happy that I did the whole thing with Jerusalem and the embassy, which, by the way, we’re going to open in four months for less than $500,000.  And the budget was over $1 billion, right? 

Q    Yes.  That’s correct. 

THE PRESIDENT:  So we saved, let’s say, a billion dollars.  That’s not so bad.  And it’s open.  And it’s beautiful, by the way.  Jerusalem stone, one of my favorite stones. 

I will tell you, the question — somebody said today, “Well, this is the first news conference in a long time.”  I said, “What do you mean?  I did like, five today.”  Every time I sit, I take a lot of questions from people that are screaming like maniacs in the back of the room — meaning, reporters.  

And one of the reporters — I won’t say that it was John Roberts that said that, I refuse.  But one of the — it was, but that’s okay.  Don’t feel guilty, John.  But of the reporters that was screaming asked about the one-state, two-state.  And I said, “I think the two-state will happen.  I think it’s, in one way, more difficult because it’s a real estate deal — because you need metes and bounds, and you need lots of carve-outs and lots of everything.  It’s actually a little tougher deal.  But in another way, it works better because you have people governing themselves. 

So, they asked be about that.  I said, “Well, I think the two-state will happen.  I think we’re going to go down the two-state road.”  And I’m glad I got it out.  And Jared, who is so involved — he loves Israel.  He loves Israel.  But he’s also going to be very fair with the Palestinians.  He understands it takes two people to be happy — two groups of people to be happy.  Everybody has got to be happy.  And that’s why it’s so tough, because there’s been so much hatred and anger for so many years.  That’s what, probably, the number-one ingredient of toughness is.  But they asked me — I said I think it’s going to be a two-state.  

And you know what I did today?  By saying that, I put it out there.  And if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that.  But nobody wanted to say it.  It’s a big thing to put it out.  It’s a very big thing to put it out.  

Now, the bottom line: If the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s okay with me.  If they want two states, that’s okay with me.  I’m happy if they’re happy.  I’m a facilitator.  I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don’t get killed anymore.  

When we had — in Saudi Arabia, we had one of the great conferences in history.  Many of you were there; probably all of you were there.  It was one of the most beautiful two days.  That, and China — two of the most incredible events I’ve ever seen.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  

And we had, I believe, 58 Muslim countries — the leaders.  The kings, the emirs, the absolute leaders from every — there was nobody in second place.  They were the leaders of the whole thing.  

And unbeknownst to anybody else, people would come up to me, individually — it wasn’t a setup.  They’d come up to me and say, “Sir, you can’t have peace in the Middle East without peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”  I said, “Why?  What difference?  Why does that matter so much?”  They said, “It just is impossible to make peace in the Middle East unless you have between the Israelis…”  

So, I heard that from one — the King of Saudi Arabia, who is a great guy — King Salman.  And then, somebody else came up.  And he wasn’t told, “Oh, go up and say it.”  I know where they’re coming from.  And I must have had 12 leaders say it.  And they just said it.  

And I started to realize that peace between Israel and the Palestinians, for the Middle East, is a very important thing.  And we’re trying very hard to get it.  I think, probably, two-state is more likely.  But you know what?  If they do a single, if they do a double, I’m okay with it if they’re both happy.  If they’re both happy, I’m okay with either.  I think the two-state is more likely. 

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Okay, how about one — go ahead.

Q    New York Times?  New York Times?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, okay.

Q    Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  I would have gotten bad story in the New York Times.  But I will anyways, so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Q    We’re — we’re kind of, uh —

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, we’ll do you after that.

Q    We’re kind of, uh —

THE PRESIDENT:  And then we’ll call it quits.

Q    We’re kind of thriving, not failing these days.

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re doing very well.

Q    Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT:  Say, “Thank you, Mr. Trump.”  (Laughter.)

Q    (Laughs).  I think I’ll stop short of that.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I wonder how you do — you know, all my life, I’ve had very few stories — but I’ve had some on the front page of the New York Times.  Now, I think I think I average about three or four a day, right?

THE PRESIDENT:  And, of the three or four, they’re all negative.  No matter what I do, they’re negative.  But you know what?  That’s okay.  I still love the paper.

Go ahead.  (Laughter.)

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

China Trade War

Q    I wanted to come back to China, because I think what you announced today was really important.

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree.

Q    You talk about this friendship you have with Xi Jinping, and yet, essentially, what you did today is accused his government — 

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right. 

Q    — of interfering in our internal affairs — 

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right. 

Q    — subverting our Democratic process, and doing it to hurt you, the Republican Party — 

THE PRESIDENT:  Doing it to help them. 

Q    — and your backers. 

THE PRESIDENT:  You know what?  Yeah.  Doing it to help them. 

     Q    So how can a guy who does that be your friend? 

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think that we are able to — and maybe he’s not anymore.  I’ll be honest with you, I think we had a very good friendship.  I think we had a very good relationship; we understand each other.  They are doing studies on Donald Trump.  They’re trying to figure it all out because this has never happened to them before.  It’s never happened.  

     Think of it, you’ve never seen — you’ve covered very well — you’ve never seen this happen.  They’re having big problems.  I don’t want them to have problems, but they got to make a fair deal.  Just like Canada has got to make a fair deal.  

     I believe that he and I have a very good chemistry together.  And I can tell you that about many leaders.  I can also tell you a few where I don’t feel I’ll ever have a chemistry with them.  I don’t want to have a chemistry with them.  And for those people, I’ll have Pompeo, Nikki, Bolton, Jared.  I can go — our general; I’ll have our general.  Or if they can’t do it, I’ll have Sarah Huckabee do it.  Right? 

     But for the most part, I have very good — very good with Prime Minister Abe.  Very good with President Moon.  

     By the way, what President Moon said last night — I know you won’t report it — but Bret Baier interviewed him last night and he asked him about me.  I can’t say — because you would say I’m too braggadocios — but what he said about me last night was an unbelievable thing.  “Couldn’t have happened without President Trump, and it never would happen without President Trump.  And nobody else could do it.”  You know, I mean, you’ll take a look.  

But I will tell you, China is very special.  Very special.  They’re incredible people.  It’s an incredible country.  What they’ve done is unbelievable.  

Q    How would — 

THE PRESIDENT:  And it all started with the WTO.  It was a defective deal.  And it all started — without the WTO, China is not China as we know it today.  

And then it started also by — our people that are standing right in this position, that are in the Oval Office — another way of saying it — allowed them to get away with murder.  Allowed a lot of countries to get away with murder. 

I think we still probably have a very good relationship.  But you know what?  In honor of you, I will, tomorrow, make a call to him.  Say, “Hey, how you doing?”  Okay?  

Q    Can I — can I just ask — 

THE PRESIDENT:  “You don’t mind paying billions of dollars a month in tariffs.” 

Q    I just had two small follow-ups.  One is, how would you compare the level of interference you see today from the Chinese to what Russia did in 2016? 

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think it’s different.  If you look at the Des Moines Register, I mean, they have ads that are made to look like editorials.  Saying about, “Oh, you got to stop Trump.  You got to stop him.  You got to vote against him.”  My farmers are so incredible.  These are patriots.  

     You know, on a network that doesn’t like me very much — which is most of them — but a network that didn’t — doesn’t really treat me very good, they interviewed farmers.  And they got hurt because, you know, all of a sudden China stops buying.  

By the way, they’ve started buying again.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed.  And soybeans are going up, and things are going up.  And we’ve had very little hurt from what I’ve done.  In fact, the markets have gone up.  And the farmers are going to do great.  

But, ultimately — but they had farmers, and these guys are amazing; I love them.  And they voted for me and they love me.  And they said, “We don’t care if we get hurt.  He’s doing the right thing.”  And, you know, a lot of people — it’s a complex game.  A lot of people don’t know exactly what it is.  They don’t know how to define “tariff.”  They don’t know it is really different than a tax, although it’s getting close. 

But they know that for the first time in many, many years, they have a President that’s fighting for them; that’s not letting their jobs be taken to other countries; that’s not allowing the kind of abuse that we — I mean, when you look at what happened, as an example, with NAFTA.  And for years — because it was never changed — NAFTA was defective deal the day it was signed.  

You know why?  Because they had a VAT tax of 17 percent and nobody from this country knew that.  And by the time they found out, which was about a week later, nobody went and changed it.  So you went many years and they never changed it.  There was a VAT tax that Mexico got.  So we were 17 or 16 points behind, before we even started.  NAFTA was a horrible thing. 

So the farmers and — by the way, the steel workers — you know, I stopped the dumping.  The dumping was horrible.  And now if they want to dump, that’s okay, but they’ve got to pay the United States of America 25 percent on everything they dump.  That’s okay.  But as I told you before, steel is doing phenomenally well. 

But the farmers say, “This man is fighting for us.  No President has ever fought for us before.”  And you really have to study what’s happened over the 15 years with the farm.  The farmers have been decimated over a 15-year period.  They’ve been decimated.  The farmers are going to come out great.  These are great people.  They’re great, great patriots.

Donald Trump at press conference during visit to United Nations, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What Message Kavanaugh Hearings Sending Young Men? 

Q    You were asked earlier in the news conference by my friend from Sky News about the message that you are sending to the women of the country. What about the message that you may be sending to young men?  You’re a father.  What does this moment that we’re in — the cultural moment — 

     THE PRESIDENT:  It’s a very big cultural moment.  

Q    Right.  So what messages do you for young men of America? 

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s a very big — it’s also — you’re right.  I think it’s a great question. 

     This is a very big moment for our country because you have a man who is very outstanding, but he’s got very strong charges against him — probably charges that nobody is going to be able be — to prove.  

So I could have you chosen for a position.  I could have you, or you, or you — anybody.  And somebody could say things.  And it’s happened to me many times, where false statements are made.  And honestly, nobody knows who to believe. 

     I could pick another Supreme Court judge — Justice.  I could pick another one.  Another one.  Another one.  This could go on forever.  Somebody could come and say, “Thirty years ago, twenty-five years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, he did a horrible thing to me.  He did this.  He did that.  He did that.”  

And honestly, it’s a very dangerous period in our country.  And it’s being perpetrated by some very evil people.  Some of them are Democrats, I must say.  Because some of them know that this is just a game that they’re playing.  It’s a con game.  It’s at the highest level.  We’re talking about the United States Supreme Court.  

This can go on forever.  I can pick five other people.  At a certain point, the people are going to say, “No, thank you.”  This is the most coveted job, probably, in the world.  

And you know what?  I would honestly say — because I interviewed great people for this job.  He’s great, but I interviewed other great people for this job.  I could conceivably imagine going to one of them and saying, “It’s too bad what happened to this wonderful man, but I’m going to choose you, number two.  I want you to go.”  And I could conceivably be turned down by somebody that desperately wanted this job two months ago. 

     THE PRESIDENT:  So this is — this is — and this is beyond Supreme Court.  

THE PRESIDENT:  There’s nothing beyond Supreme Court; this is beyond Supreme Court.  This has everything to do with our country. 

     When you are guilty until proven innocent, it’s just not supposed to be that way.  Always I heard, “You’re innocent until proven guilty.”  I’ve heard this for so long, and it’s such a beautiful phrase.  In this case, you’re guilty until proven innocent.  I think that is a very, very dangerous standard for our country.  

     With that being said, I look forward to what she has to say.  I also look very forward to what Judge Kavanaugh has to say.  I think it’s going to be a very, very important day in the history of our country.

 END                 6:19 P.M. EDT

____________________________

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French President, Countering Trump, Defends Multilateralism, Suggests New Coalitions that Would Isolate, Weaken US

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, defended multilateralism while urging new coalitions form to solve the most pressing global issues and offering mechanisms to isolate, work around, and ultimately weaken the ability of the United States to force its will © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Emmanuel Macron, President of France, threw down the gauntlet to US President Donald Trump, delivering the anti-America First rebuttal to Trump’s speech to the 73rd United Nations General Assembly. Macron defended multilateralism while urging new coalitions form to solve the most pressing global issues and offering mechanisms to isolate, work around, and ultimately weaken the ability of the United States to force its will.

He contradicted Trump’s call for countries to sanction Iran and said that he would like the Euro to be strengthened to weaken the US dollar as a global currency and its ability to be used as a cudgel to force nations to bow to United States.

“We need to be able to open exchanges to other democratic powers. We need to build new coalitions to make progress on trade – a strategic dialogue with China; on tech. a partnership with India; on climate, clear specific dialogue with China, India and Africa; on education inequality, with Africa.”

Insisting on multilateralism as the only means to prevent conflicts and deal with global issues of inequality, climate change, Macron drew stark contrast to Trump’s dystopian view of globalism, evoking  the memory of two world wars out of the ashes of which the United Nations was formed. Instead of following Trump’s call to increase sanctions on Iran, he urged more cooperation, and advocated for the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“During anniversary of 1948 declaration [of Human Rights], we are reminded that human rights not a cultural fact, but fundamental values… universality is compatible with sovereignty of people and is indeed only way to preserve rights – France shall remain there to make sure world not forget that nationalism always leads to defeat, that if courage is lacking in defense of fundamental principles, international order becomes fragile and this can lead, as we have seen twice, to global war.”

In his speech and afterward at a press briefing, Macron struck at Trump’s pet issue, trade, suggesting that either France would not forge a trade agreement with a country that was not part of the Paris Climate Accord, or there would be mitigation (which makes sense since Trump argues there are economic costs to climate action, therefore producers who do not adhere would have an advantage over countries that impose standards and regulations aimed at curbing heat-trapping gases). Macron said such trade agreements would also be used to bar genetically-modified food products.

“That means there is no comprehensive agreement if [the nation is] not in line with Paris … Today we need to find solutions where we can equalize tariffs – if neutral on climate – however this generation of significant trade agreements that might run counter, I’m not in favor of.

“France continues to spearhead this global fight against climate change,” Macron added. “In the G7, I will work to see the Paris obligations increased… The G7 must remain firmly committed to democracy, unified, also lead to new coalitions, reforging the global collective system – new forms of cooperation to make strides forward – effectively push back against these inequalities which have eroded our societies – mistrust- isolationism – fueled such actions –all these inequalities we have let fester and collective inability to find solutions. No single nation can solve on its own.” But, he said, “Our collective system falling apart…”

He also veered significantly away from Trump’s call to impose new sanctions on Iran, saying that the situation isn’t helped by hurting Iran’s economy.

“What will bring a real solution to the situation in Iran and what has already stabilized it? The law of the strongest? Pressure from only one side? No! We know that Iran was on a nuclear military path but what stopped it? The 2015 Vienna accord,” he said.

Elaborating in the press briefing, he said, “The consequences of US strategy in Iran –I have little doubt Trump will sanction on Nov 4 – will have impact on Iranian businesses, but especially those businesses that trade with Iran and are exposed to US dollar,” he said in the press briefing.

“The strategy of the United States to reduce Iranian financial capacity to weaken [the regime] I don’t share. I believe we can bring more pressure politically if we support Iran’s economic situation – that would put more pressure on current regime. For some months, I have been working to keep Iran in [the nuclear] agreement, and develop substitutes but it won’t replace all US (sanctions), the businesses that are exposed to US – but will help industrial and trade solutions for regional powers. In context of Vienna agreement, the work we have undertaken with 3 European countries (France, Germany, United Kingdom) and the European Union, working with Iran, but we also started with China, India, Russia, to work with them and regional powers, to find a trade solution that is viable and make it possible to build a solution.

“Clearly we can’t respond to all solutions, but we are convinced some trade solutions might give beginning of answer. The crux of matter is we favor of strengthening Iran’s economic and financial sovereignty –I  don’t think good for Europe, for the US decision to impact European business that can’t work with (Iran). Certain American decisions [are possible] due to extraterritoriality of dollar. I am in favor of a stronger Euro and a stronger Eurozone – that would provide a counterbalance to dollars. I am in favor of rules in trade, financial, economic to strengthen European sovereignty with market [forces]. That is one of the things the next mandate of European Parliament and commission [need to address].”

He gave an indirect rebuke to Trump (who hailed his decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem) on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, saying, “What can resolve the crisis between Israel and Palestine?” asked Macron. “Not unilateral initiatives, nor trampling on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to legitimate peace. There is no credible alternative to the two-state solution.”

Macron was treated as rock star – The session he headed on reaffirming Climate Action goals was standing room only – guards had to fight off people trying to get into the too-small conference room.

Macron seems to be taking over the role of “conscience” of world – fighting for climate action, equality, education, rational migration, sustainable development. He moaned over the 250 million children who cannot attend school, the 100 million living in abject poverty.

You may be tired of multilateralism,” he said, but “never forget that genocide which led to you being here today, the very genocides which are fueled by divisions, erosion of the global order, all of this happens because we turn our heads and remain complacent… I do not accept the erosion of multilateralism. I don’t accept our history unraveling. Our children are watching. Let us address the crises, work together to combat inequalities, do it on a human level [guided by the] principle of universalism.

Macron urged new financing mechanisms – for example, using sovereign funds to invest in sustainable development and climate action – and ‘out of the box’ thinking.

____________________________

© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump to UN General Assembly: ‘America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination’

US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 

(New York, NY, Sept. 25, 2018) Speaking in modulated tones and clinging to the words in the teleprompter, Donald Trump gave a big F-U to the UN, in his second address to the United Nations General Assembly, rejecting multilateralism in favor of sovereignty.

But just a few sentences into the speech, his statement, “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” drew snickers. He continued, “America’s –so true,” as the snickers grew into laughter. “Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay,” he said with a nervous grin, to laughter and applause.

His speech recycled favorite throw-out lines that have worked well on his campaign-style rallies to friendly crowds, reviewing what he claimed for himself as successes. And after reviewing – gloating – over the economic boom in the US (he claimed to have added $10 trillion in wealth, the stock market at record highs, lowest unemployment, added 4 million jobs, tax cuts, “record funding” of $700 billion for the military), he suggested that America’s bounty somehow benefited others.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, Sept. 25, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But whereas others – notably French President Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – spoke of the need to address horrific inequality, gender discrimination, climate disasters that disproportionately affect certain segments of the world’s population, to invest in “sustainable” development – Trump’s message to the world: “I’ve got mine. Screw you.”

“America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination,” he said, in rejecting the Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court, the Global Compact on Migration, the Paris Climate Accord, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement, while calling for the nations to sanction Iran. “We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.

Later, French President Emmanuel Macron offered a contrary message, embracing multilateralism, and standing up for new coalitions to fight inequality and climate change.

Here is a highlighted transcript of Trump’s remarks (notably, too, Trump arrived late):

–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

10:38 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Madam President, Mr. Secretary-General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates:

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall.  I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity.

Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we’ve made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.

America’s — so true.  (Laughter.)  Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay.  (Laughter and applause.)

America’s economy is booming like never before.  Since my election, we’ve added $10 trillion in wealth.  The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low.  African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded.  We’ve added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs.

We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.  We’ve started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security.

We have secured record funding for our military — $700 billion this year, and $716 billion next year.  Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before.

In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago.

We are standing up for America and for the American people.  And we are also standing up for the world.

This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere.  We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors, and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace….

Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.

That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly: “America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions.  The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship.  We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

From Warsaw to Brussels, to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad.  I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room, and our approach has already yielded incredible change.

North Korea

With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace.

In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face to face with North Korea’s leader, Chairman Kim Jong Un.  We had highly productive conversations and meetings, and we agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  Since that meeting, we have already seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined only a short time ago.

The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction.  Nuclear testing has stopped.  Some military facilities are already being dismantled.  Our hostages have been released.  And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home to lay at rest in American soil.

I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done.  The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs.

I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment — a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand; far greater — but for also their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward.

A special thanks to President Moon of South Korea, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.

In the Middle East, our new approach is also yielding great strides and very historic change.

Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing.  They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region. 

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen.  And they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.

Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children.

For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.

Thanks to the United States military and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria.  We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists any funding, territory or support, or any means of infiltrating our borders.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking.  Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict, along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people.  In this vein, we urge the United Nations-led peace process be reinvigorated.  But, rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.

I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war.

As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process.  This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.

Iran

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that has fueled and financed it: the corrupt dictatorship in Iran.

Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction.  They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations.  Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.

The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the people’s religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war.  Not good.

Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the region’s [regime’s] agenda of aggression and expansion.  That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal and re-impose nuclear sanctions.

The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders.  In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget grew nearly 40 percent.  The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen.

The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda.  Last month, we began re-imposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that had been lifted under the Iran deal.  Additional sanctions will resume November 5th, and more will follow.  And we’re working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially.

We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons.  We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America,” and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth.  Just can’t do it.

We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues.  And we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

US Delegation including VP Mike Pence, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, John Bolton listen as Trump delivers address to UN General Assembly © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Israel-Palestine

This year, we also took another significant step forward in the Middle East.  In recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital, I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts.

America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again.  This is true not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity.

Trade

We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal.  The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer.

For decades, the United States opened its economy — the largest, by far, on Earth — with few conditions.  We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders. 

Yet, other countries did not grant us fair and reciprocal access to their markets in return.  Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country.  As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year.

For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals. 

Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.  And just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand new U.S.-Korea trade deal.  And this is just the beginning.

Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change.  For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based.  While the United States and many other nations play by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor.  They engage in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property. 

The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO.  And we have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.

But those days are over.  We will no longer tolerate such abuse.  We will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred.  America will never apologize for protecting its citizens.

The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods for a total, so far, of $250 billion.  I have great respect and affection for my friend, President Xi, but I have made clear our trade imbalance is just not acceptable.  China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interest. 

Reject Globalism, Embrace Doctrine of Patriotism

I spoke before this body last year and warned that the U.N. Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. 

Our Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken.  So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council, and we will not return until real reform is enacted.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly: America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support in recognition to the International Criminal Court.  As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority.  The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process.  We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy. 

America is governed by Americans.  We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.

OPEC

Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination.

In America, we believe strongly in energy security for ourselves and for our allies.  We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth.  The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas.

OPEC and OPEC nations, are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it.  Nobody should like it.  We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices.  Not good.

We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices, and they must contribute substantially to military protection from now on.  We are not going to put up with it — these horrible prices — much longer.

Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation.  That is why we congratulate European states, such as Poland, for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs.  Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers.

It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs.  The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national security threats, and we welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same.  You need to do it for your own protection.

No to Global Compact on Migration 

The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration.  Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane.  It’s a horrible thing that’s going on, at levels that nobody has ever seen before.  It’s very, very cruel. 

Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs.  Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations, hurts hardworking citizens, and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty.  Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs, can we break this cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity. 

We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same — which we are doing.  That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration.  Migration should not be governed by an international body unaccountable to our own citizens.

Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries.  Make their countries great again.  

Venezuela: A Lesson in Evils of Socialism

Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy, as an example, in Venezuela.  More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors.

Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on Earth.  Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty.

Virtually everywhere socialism or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption, and decay.  Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression.  All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone.

Calling for new sanctions against Venezuela, Trump declared, “Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In that spirit, we ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela.  Today, we are announcing additional sanctions against the repressive regime, targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisors.

We are grateful for all the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families.

US Foreign Aid Only to Those Who Like Us

The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid.  But few give anything to us.  That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance.  That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart.

Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.  And we expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.  

Pay Up for Peacekeeping

The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable.  I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential.  As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.  This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden.

And we are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success.

Only when each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the U.N.’s highest aspirations.  We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly: “The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here in this body are. It really is something. It really is great, great history.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Looking around this hall where so much history has transpired, we think of the many before us who have come here to address the challenges of their nations and of their times.  And our thoughts turn to the same question that ran through all their speeches and resolutions, through every word and every hope.  It is the question of what kind of world will we leave for our children and what kind of nations they will inherit.

The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here in this body are.  It really is something.  It really is great, great history.

There is India, a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class.

There is Saudi Arabia, where King Salman and the Crown Prince are pursuing bold new reforms.

There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy in the Holy Land.

In Poland, a great people are standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.

Many countries are pursuing their own unique visions, building their own hopeful futures, and chasing their own wonderful dreams of destiny, of legacy, and of a home.

The whole world is richer, humanity is better, because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, and each shining brightly in its part of the world.

In each one, we see awesome promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.

As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves.  We know what kind of a nation America must always be.

In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual.  We believe in self-government and the rule of law.  And we prize the culture that sustains our liberty -– a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence.  We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and above all, we love our country.

Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland.

The passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs, and magnificent works of art.

Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it.  To build with it.  To draw on its ancient wisdom.  And to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd United Nations General Assembly: “Let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible.  Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered.  And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.

When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us.  We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us.  We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

So together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride.  Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat.  And let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations, forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just, and forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless the nations of the world.

Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                11:13 A.M. EDT

 

United Nations: US Steps Up Attacks on Iran, as Security Council Chastises Israel Over Looming Palestinian Crisis

US Ambassador Nikki Haley presiding over a Security Council meeting on the Middle East, listens to report by UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov on the deteriorating Israel-Palestinian conflict, Sept. 20, 2018 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, chairing the Security Council meeting on Thursday, September 20 focused on the Middle East, listened as one member after another attacked Israel for “disproportionate” response to Palestinian protests, the looming humanitarian crisis which demands international support and calls for Israel to stop the demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the West Bank, where 181 Palestinians live, as a provocation which would further hamper the prospects for a two-state solution.

“The urgency of the situation that we face on the ground is really desperate – Gaza can explode any minute,” UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov, briefing the Security Council, stressed.

“We have a humanitarian responsibility to react but we must understand that it cannot be solved only on the basis of humanitarian action…It must be solved with a political perspective to resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict and we have a responsibility to support the parties.”

Mladenov listed Israel’s continued military occupation of Palestinian territory; uncertainties about the future of the peace process and the two-state solution; Hamas’ continuing hold on Gaza and its militant activity, as exacerbating the situation on the ground.

“No steps have been taken during the reporting period to cease settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” he said, asserting that settlement activities are “a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace.”

UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov delivers report appealing for international funding for Palestinians to avert humanitarian crisis, and urging resumption of negotiations towards a two-state solution © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

He pointed to violence, acts of provocation and inflammatory rhetoric – both by Hamas and Israel, and that on at least three occasions the situation “escalated dramatically” and calm was restored only after Egypt and the UN intervened to de-escalate tensions.

On the humanitarian side, of most concern is the power crisis in Gaza and, with the UN running out of funds for emergency fuel, critical health, water and sanitation facilities are at “immediate risk” of shutting down. Levels of critical medicines are also running dangerously low.

The crisis is being further exacerbated by the serious cash shortfall – due to the withdrawal of US funding – confronting UNRWA, the Organization’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, he said, calling for urgent funding to allow it to continue its vital services.

Mladenov reminded the Security Council that 25 years have passed since the Oslo Accords were signed in the US capital, Washington D.C.

“It was a historic moment that captured the world’s attention and filled Palestinians, Israelis and the region with hope that a genuine peace could be realized. Sadly, that courageous vision of a lasting peace now lies in tatters,” he said.

“We must restore that hope – the alternative is perpetual cycles of violence. We must overcome the current impasse and refocus our efforts on ultimately returning to meaningful negotiations to end the occupation and bring a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

UN Security Council meeting on Middle East focuses mainly on Israel-Palestinian conflict, but US Ambassador Nikki Haley switches focus to Iran © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

After his report, one by one, the ambassadors expressed criticism of Israel.

But instead of responding, she sidestepped the issue entirely, focusing instead on Iran as the more dangerous actor destabilizing the Middle East.

“I’ve listened to my colleagues statements this afternoon with great interest,” Haley said. “I have always been open about my belief that this Middle East debate has been excessively and unfairly focused on Israel. Today, I will go one step further. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is serious and worthy of this Council’s attention. But if there is one country that is the source of conflict and instability in the Middle East – one country that merits a quarterly debate in the Security Council – that country is not Israel. It’s Iran.”

She proceeded to lay out the case against Iran, which will no doubt be a key focus for the United States in the upcoming General Assembly and Security Council meetings, when the US will likely marshal support for its decision to pull away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, by which Iran agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for relief from sanctions. The US has demanded reimposition of sanctions.

“For almost 40 years, the Iranian regime has existed outside the community of law-abiding nations. It is difficult to name a conflict in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints on it.

“The Iranian regime has backed dictators who gas their own people. It stokes conflict. It funds foreign fighters and terrorists. It transfers missiles to militants. It acts against the interests and policies of this Security Council, time and time again. Across the Middle East, Iran has trampled on the sovereignty of its neighbors. In Lebanon. In Syria. In Yemen. And the Iranian regime has shown a total disregard of the sovereignty of a country that is at a critical stage in its political development: Iraq.

“Iran’s leaders pretend their interference in the sovereignty of other nations is done in the name of religious affiliation. They like to claim that they have been “invited” into the affairs of other countries. In fact, the motives of the mullahs are much less elevated. They are interested in power. In the case of Iraq, their goal is to exploit uncertainty in order to create an Iranian controlled corridor for weapons and fighters from Tehran to the Mediterranean.

Security Council representatives of France, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (EU member countries with a seat on the Council); Belgium and Germany (incoming Council members in 2019) and Italy (a Council member until last year) who issued a joint statement urging Israeli authorities to reconsider its decision to demolish a Palestinian village © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In recent months, Iran’s aggression has escalated. Iranian proxies in Iraq operate openly, with funding, training, and weapons supplied by Tehran. The Iranian regime has reportedly begun over the last few months to transfer ballistic missiles to these proxies in Iraq. It is reportedly developing the capability for its proxy militias to produce their own missiles inside of Iraq.

“In a blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty, the Iranian regime recently fired a barrage of missiles from Iran into Iraq. Iran attacked the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, killing eleven people. This was not an act of Iranian proxies but of the Tehran regime itself. It was Iran’s first direct military strike into Iraqi territory in over a decade. This Iranian interference in the sovereignty of Iraq should be of great interest to the Security Council for many reasons, not least of which is because it occurs in clear defiance of Security Council resolutions.

“Iranian General and head of the IRGC Quds Force Soleimani is leading an effort to influence the composition of a new Iraqi government. I remind my colleagues that Soleimani was banned from traveling outside of Iran by the Security Council in 2007. That ban was reaffirmed in 2015 with the passage of Security Council Resolution 2231. Despite this unambiguous travel ban, Soleimani has practically taken up residence in Iraq since the May elections. This fact was noted by the Secretary-General in the most recent 2231 Implementation Report. And let’s be clear about what Soleimani is up to in Iraq. He is not there to help create a government in Baghdad that is responsive to the Iraqi people. He is there to build an Iraqi government that is under the control of the Iranian regime.

“Iran treats Iraq as if it was not an independent nation. Iran sees Iraq as merely a transit point for Iranian weapons and a training ground for Iranian proxies. Iran seeks to keep Iraq economically weak and dependent on its exports – even though Iraq has plenty of its own resources. Why? Because Iran wants to use a weak Iraq to illicitly fund its terrorist activities.

“There is one more recent Iranian escalation that bears special consequence to Americans. Two weeks ago, two Iranian proxy groups launched rocket attacks on the American Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Basra. Using proxy forces in Iraq does not give the Iranian regime plausible deniability when attacks like this occur. The Trump Administration does not, and will not, buy that. Iran could have stopped its proxies’ attacks. It chose not to, so the White House responded by putting Tehran firmly on notice. We hold the Iranian regime fully accountable for its proxies’ attacks on U.S. facilities and personnel in Iraq. And we will not hesitate to vigorously defend American lives.

The permanent observer of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad H. Mansour, and representatives of Arab States including Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, thanked the Europeans for entreating Israel not to demolish a West Bank village, but expected the motion to be blocked by the United States in the Security Council © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The sovereignty of Member States is an issue that comes up a lot in the Security Council – for good reason. Every nation has the sovereign right to govern itself, protect its people, and defend its borders. No less than any nation, Iraq has that right. And yet, at a critical time in its history – as Iraqis build their government – Iran is acting in shameless disregard of Iraqi sovereignty. It is threatening populations to promote its own political leaders. It is undermining a key feature of sovereignty – a state monopoly on the use of force – by promoting its own militias.

“The United States is committed to working with Iraq to help it create an inclusive and independent government. Iraq is working to recover from years of conflict against ISIS and still to overcome the legacy of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.

“Not only is Iranian interference preventing forward progress for the Iraqi people, it is pulling them backward to the conflict and division they are striving to put behind them. This is the very same conflict and division that Iran promotes in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and across the Middle East.

“All members of the Security Council who respect the principle of national sovereignty should be concerned. And all who respect the right to self-determination for the Iraqi people should come to their defense.”

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

United Nations Ambassador Haley Asserts US Stance of ‘Sovereignty’ over “Multilateralism’

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, previewing the 73rd UN General Assembly High-Level Week, says, “We’re not saying that multilateralism can’t work but sovereignty is above all of that.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

To hear Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, preview US priorities for the 73rd UN General Assembly High-Level Week which gets underway Monday September 24, the United Nations is merely a stage and the rest of the world’s ministers mere players for American interests, otherwise the US doesn’t want to take part, asserting its “sovereignty.” While the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has made strengthening “multilateralism” a key objective this year (which includes addressing climate change, refugees, nuclear nonproliferation, and financing and mobilizing private investment for sustainable developing economies “without which, sustainable goals are not feasible”), in the US definition, “multilateralism” is getting other countries to do America’s bidding – whether sanctioning North Korea or Iran –  but nothing that “mandates” the United States to do what it doesn’t want to do.

“We’ve said from very beginning almost two years ago when we came in that we were going to try and see what we make out of the United Nations,” Haley said at a press “stakeout” on Thursday, September 20. Issues like the Global Migration Compact, the Paris Climate Accord, “all these things that we felt were mandating things on the US, those aren’t things we want to be involved in…We really value sovereignty. We think every country should. That’s the conversation we want.

“We’re not saying that multilateralism can’t work but sovereignty is above all of that.”

Add to that list the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted at the United Nations on July 7, 2017, with 122 states voting in favor (but with none of the nine nuclear powers, including the United States, as signatories) and opened for signature by the Secretary-General of the United Nations exactly a year ago. The nuclear weapons prohibition would become international law once 50 nations ratify the treaty. (Commemoration and promotion of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will take place on Wednesday, September 26, the same day as Trump chairs the Security Council meeting.)

UN Secretary-General António Guterres: “I will use my meetings and other opportunities next week to press for renewed commitment to a rules-based global order and to the United Nations.: © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The focus next week, when some 84 heads of state will be in New York, she said, “will be very much on the United States, what our role is in the world, the relationships we want to continue to build and what we can do about that. I think the goal we all have in this administration: how to make the American people proud and what actions we can show that make us proud.” (Sounds like a campaign rally for the midterms, more than taking advantage of face-to-face meetings with the heads of state to address issues of war and peace, life and death.)

“The US presidency has been one that has been full of substance, full of issues,” she said. “We are very proud of what we have done. We raised alarm bells on Venezuela, Nicaragua, how the international community must pay more attention. We held the first-ever discussion in front of the Security Council on corruption and how corruption relates to conflict. [We focused on] accountability – a good next step forward on what we’re trying to do on peacekeeping.

“We held multiple meetings on applying pressure on the crisis we hope doesn’t happen in Idlib and the humanitarian situation that can happen. And we are meeting to intensify the need for enforcement of sanctions on North Korea – reminding Security Council members we are all responsible making sure those are enforced properly.”

Last year, Trump’s big initiative in the United Nations General Assembly was about “reform” – as in getting other nations to pay what he considers their fair share, as he did at NATO. This year, the US big initiative is “a global call to action on the global drug problem. We already have 124 countries signed up and the number is growing. It shows that the world drug problem affects so many countries. The focus is on reducing use of illicit drugs, on cutting supply off, expanding treatment, and more than that, international cooperation… I look forward to more signatories.” Apparently, the US is okay with “multilaternalism” when it comes to curbing the drug problem.

There was no mention of the United States withdrawing from the Human Rights Council (ostensibly over perceived bias over Israel but likely also in protest over a report that pointed to 40% of Americans living in poverty, and perhaps to avoid condemnation over its inhumane, even criminal treatment of separating children as young as infants from their parents at the southern border), or its defiance of the International Criminal Court (to which the US has never joined). Instead of mobilizing private investment for sustainable development, the United States is focused on scoring foreign policy successes through tightening screws with sanctions and slashing foreign aid.

Donald Trump addressing the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. This year, he is expected focus on “the foreign policy successes the US has had over the past year – protecting US sovereignty – and continue to build relationships with those that share those values.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Haley said that Donald Trump’s speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, will focus on “the foreign policy successes the US has had over the past year – protecting US sovereignty – and continue to build relationships with those that share those values.”

The America First policy – really a way of reducing issues to dollars and cents – extends to foreign aid: Haley said the United States’ “generosity” will be confined to those who do what the US wants.

“We will lay down a marker that while the US is generous, we are generous to those who share our values, who want to work with us, and not those who want to stop the US or say ‘death to America’.”

That has already been made clear in the US action to shut down aid to Palestinians– nearly $200 million – prompting members of the Security Council to raise alarms over a looming humanitarian crisis there. The action coincided with the administration shutting the Palestine Liberation Office in Washington DC.

With the US chairing the Security Council this year, Trump will chair the Security Council meeting on Wednesday. “That will be the most watched Security council meeting ever,” Haley quipped.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will take over the chair to lead a Security Council meeting on North Korea.

“The importance is the fact that every single foreign minister will be attending this Security Council meeting. It is a conversation we think needs to be had, chance for us to look at what we’ve achieved, in progress in North Korea – progress – chance to look at commitment to peace, but also to have conversation that if we don’t enforce sanctions, all this can go away.”

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, previewing the 73rd UN General Assembly High-Level Week, says the US will also be focusing international attention on Iran – both from the point of nonproliferation, and as a destabilizing force in the Middle East © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The US will also be focusing international attention on Iran – both from the point of nonproliferation, and as a destabilizing force in the Middle East – as Haley did during a Security Council meeting that was 99% devoted to bashing Israel over settlements and “disproportionate” reaction to Palestinian protests and rocket attacks on Israel, and its plans to demolish a Bedouin village. She, instead, devoted her comments to Iran, and not on salvaging the nuclear agreement, but in trying to amass international support for renewed sanctions.

“Iran continues to be a problem – every dangerous spot, Iran seems to have their fingerprints in it. … their proxies, what they doing to destabilize the Middle East.” But she was vague in terms of whether Trump would agree to meet with Iran President Hassan Rouhani, who reportedly requested a meeting.

“Certainly if Rouhani requested a meeting, that would be for the president to decide.”

She said that Trump has scheduled bilats with South Korea, Egypt, France, Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom but “others could come up.” She held out the possibility he might agree to meet with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“If Erdogan requests a meeting… next week not set in stone. Certainly a head of state could request a meeting and the president would have prerogative” to accept.

The plight of the Myanmar Rohingya is also of concern, she said. “That is a hot topic now. We have to figure out how we going to bring Rohingyans back to Burma in a way it’s safe. I have expressed my view that I don’t think the government has done enough, I don’t think the military has accepted responsibility, Myanmar leader] Aung San Suu Kyi basically acknowledged the fact the reporters were right to be detained and imprisoned, is a real problem. What they’re saying, we’re not understanding and what we’re saying they are not hearing..and at some point the international community ahs to speak with one voice. It’s not okay with them just being in Bangladesh.”

Among the administration officials who will be coming to the United Nations and participating in meetings: Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Trade Representative Robert Emmet Lighthizer, USAID Administrator Mark Green, and special adviser Ivanka Trump.

“This is week we all wait for, where we can really put American interests in the spotlight, make it a really prominent thing –with all the administration coming in, they will come in and do their thing. All try to get some good peace and security.”

Interestingly, there was no mention of taking up the issue of one nation’s (Russia) interference in the elections of another (United States), which is a direct attack on sovereignty.

Security Council representatives of France, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (EU member countries with a seat on the Council); Belgium and Germany (incoming Council members in 2019) and Italy (a Council member until last year) who issued a joint statement urging Israeli authorities to reconsider its decision to demolish a Palestinian village © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Haley’s remarks, which preceded a Security council meeting devoted to the Middle East, were followed by  representatives of France, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (EU member countries with a seat on the Council); Belgium and Germany (incoming Council members in 2019) and Italy (a Council member until last year) who issued a joint statement urging Israeli authorities to reconsider its decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian village in the West Bank, which, they said not only created a humanitarian crisis but exacerbated the conflict and further eroded the possibility of a two-state solution.

They were followed by Arab State representatives, including the representative from Palestine, who expressed gratitude to the Europeans, but said that the proposed resolution censuring Israel would likely be blocked by the United States.

In contrast to Haley’s declaration of “sovereignty”, Secretary-General António Guterres, in his press conference earlier that day, said, “I will use my meetings and other opportunities next week to press for renewed commitment to a rules-based global order and to the United Nations.  The United Nations is the world’s indispensable forum for international cooperation.  The presence of 84 Heads of State and 44 Heads of Government is eloquent proof of the confidence of the international community in the United Nations.”

Asked whether the Secretary General considers Trump “a threat to multilateralism,” he replied, “First, I don’t like to personalize things.  I think we are facing a situation in which, in different areas and for different reasons, the trust of people in their political establishments, the trust of states among each other, the trust of many people in international organizations has been eroded and that multilateralism has been in the fire.  And so, this is a concern, and that is the reason I said today and I will say it again in the General Assembly, that it’s essential to preserve multilateralism.”

The question that wasn’t asked of Ambassador Haley or Secretary General António Guterres was this: if the US were not (temporarily at least) the largest economy in the world and the UN’s biggest donor (temporarily at least), would the various UN councils and committees prosecute or seek sanctions for: unleashing climate catastrophes by reversing course of spewing heat-trapping gas emissions at five times the proportion of population (the US has 5% of the world’s population but accounts for 25% of carbon emissions)? For unleashing economy-crippling tariffs on countries in defiance of existing treaties in the absence of a true “national security” issue, while bestowing $12 billion in subsidies to farmers, in violation of World Trade Organization rules? For violating the Global Compact on Migration by shutting down virtually all access to refugees and asylum seekers? For violating human rights of asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America by taking away children as young as infants and incarcerating parents and children for an indeterminate time without hearing, and deporting parents leaving children orphans in custody in the US?

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© 2018 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

2-State Solution May Be Only Way to Resolve Israel-Palestinian Conflict, but Israel Should Determine Borders

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017: “Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

After listening to very erudite analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East politics by Mark Rosenblum, a former Queens College Professor of Mideast Studies and co-founder of Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU) at a meeting of Long Island grassroots activists, Reachout America, I came to my own enlightenment. It came when Rosenblum, who is also a founding member of Americans for Peace Now, showed us a map of Israel with the Palestinian communities shown as brown clusters on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Then he made this point: 80% of the 420,000 Jewish settlers in the so-called Occupied territory, the vast majority secular and not messianic Jews, live along a sliver of that territory that hugs the internationally recognized border of Israel.

Mark Rosenblum, a former Queens College Professor of Mideast Studies, co-founder of Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding (CERRU), and founding member of Americans for Peace Now, at a meeting of Long Island grassroots activists, Reachout America © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now, for the longest time, the contention has been that even though the Arab states invaded Israel in 1967 en masse intending to drive the Israelis (Hebrews) into the sea and despite the fact Israel won the war for its very existence, that the Palestinians are entitled to 100% of the land that Israel occupied (forget the fact that Israel has already given back the entire Negev to Egypt in a “land for peace” deal, and has already uprooted its settlers to give back the Gaza Strip). The Palestinians insist on Israel being returned to its pre-1967 borders, including dividing once again the holy city of Jerusalem, which it intends to make its capital. And even after the rest of the occupied territory is given “back” to Palestinians, they are still demanding the right of return into the Jewish State. They want it all, despite being the aggressors.

I happen to support a two-state solution, convinced of the argument as expressed by former President Ehud Barak when he spoke in Great Neck, that Israel cannot swallow up the Palestinians and simultaneously remain secure and democratic – the demographics are such that unless Palestinians are not allowed full citizenship (and the ability to vote and be represented in the Knesset), the Jewish State would fairly quickly become majority Muslim.

But what I don’t understand is that the Arabs who sought in 1967 and still today seek to destroy Israel (despite any calculatedly tempered language) should have all the territory returned without bearing any consequence.

Israel should not apologize for taking the lead on drawing the new borders – it should dictate those borders according to its own self-interest, and that means a unified Jerusalem and a border that includes the vast majority of the settlers, and no right of return.

Israel should be a contiguous nation with defensible borders – not hollowed out with a Gaza strip from which thousands of rockets have rained down on Israel’s civilian communities and would continue to be an incubator for terror attacks. That is intolerable.  Israel should take back Gaza and allow the Palestinians to relocate to the new Palestinian state, or if they stay, become loyal citizens of Israel (yes I recognize the issue, but Israel already has Arab citizens). This would not be the same as ethnic cleansing, which is repugnant, because the Palestinians would not be thrown out. They would have the freedom to choose their citizenship, just as they chose to leave in the first place. Meanwhile, Jewish settlers would also have to be uprooted from the territory that abuts Jordan.

This is not to be confused with another sticking point, which oddly is rarely mentioned in terms of why the Israel-Palestine conflict has been intractable: the right of return. There should not be any right of return. In the first place, the Arabs who left, left because they thought they would be able to join the conquering army and throw out the Jews. In other instances, the land was purchased.

So, looking at the map that Rosenblum presented, carve out from that a Palestinian State. Let the Palestinians make their desert bloom as the Israelis did with sweat, innovation and invention.

Map of Israel and the Occupied Territories showing the concentration of Palestinian and Jewish settlements provided by Mark Rosenblum.

I heard all of this, and then went to the UN General Assembly and heard Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu basically say what Rosenblum said: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the larger Arab-Israel conflict – was the cornerstone, the touchstone about how to think about the Mideast, …the Israel-Palestinian conflict was the driver – if you don’t solve that problem, you don’t solve anything. Today, one has to think of Israel-Palestine in context of Mideast imploding with contagion.” And terrorism that has spilled over from the Mideast.

Netanyahu, put it another way:”We’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations. This is happening because so many countries around the world have finally woken up to what Israel can do for them.” This is because, he said, “Israel is THE innovation nation. THE place for cutting-edge technology and agriculture, in water, in cybersecurity, in medicine, in autonomous vehicles” and counterterrorism. Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. Now, you may not know this, but your governments do, and they’re working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly: ”We’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, Netanyahu had very little to say about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, except almost matter-of-factly, “Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians.” Instead, he devoted a considerable portion of his remarks attacking Iran and a call to “fix or nix” the Iran nuclear agreement and rein in Iran’s terror activities.

But while Netanyahu seemed to breeze through the Israel-Palestinian conflict (the topic of a Security Council meeting on Sept. 25), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in his General Assembly address, went on a tirade about how dare the UN not enforce the 1967 borders, including making Jerusalem the Palestinian capital, how dare the good people of the world not boycott the settlements, how dare Britain not apologize for the Balfour Declaration, and not make reparations to the poor, poor Palestinians, and how could the UN not demand the right of return (with recompense) to Palestinian refugees.

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine, meets with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres during the 72nd General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Mind you, Netanyahu had only hours before called the United Nations “the epicenter of global anti-Semitism.” 

There is a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict: a two-state solution around practical borders that Israel gets to set. But there does not seem to be the ability to embrace it, as even Rosenblum, who has been working on the issue for 42 years, seemed to conclude:

“They will not by themselves have the will or capacity to pull themselves out of the mud and blood they are soaking in. Leaders on all sides -Netanyahu, Abbas, Trump – represent not the Three Musketeers but the Three Stooges. They will take us no where toward a historic breakthrough.

Donald Trump addresses the 72nd General Assembly in NYC, one of the “Three Stooges”. “They will take us no where toward a historic breakthrough,” says Mark Rosenblum. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The Israeli street and Arab street are stuck as to whether enemy or frenemy for eternity. Every morning, Mideast changes- yesterday frenemy is today ally, yesterday enemy is frenemy today.

“We have to find way of addition through subtraction,” said Rosenblum. “The real hope for a breakthrough toward Israel-Palestinian peace is coming from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Gulf States except Qatar. They treat Israel as an ally, a bulwark against Iran – that’s what the Trump generals are most interested in working on.”

Demonstration of Orthodox Jews who do not want to be conscripted into Israel’s army protest PM Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in NYC. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See also:

Netanyahu to UN General Assembly: ‘After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world’

Abbas in Hard-line Speech to General Assembly, Issues Demands for 2-State Solution

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Abbas in Hard-line Speech to General Assembly, Issues Demands for 2-State Solution

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the state of Palestine, meets with United Nations Secretary General António Guterres during the 72nd General Assembly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

In his speech to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 20, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the state of Palestine, railed against Israel, the United Nations, Great Britain and every nation that has commerce with Israel, and demonstrated why the Israel-Palestine issue is intractable. His notion of a two-state solution is for Israel, which beat back an invasion in 1967 intended to annihilate the Jewish state, to return to 1967 borders which means splitting Jerusalem which he wants as his capital and leaving Israel with undefendible borders, and allow the right of return for Palestinians who long ago left – which would demographically overrun Israel. These are the same sticking points that have prevented the solution for decades since Israel has agreed to swap land for peace – as when they completely exited the Gaza Strip, only to have thousands of rockets rained down on Israeli communities.

Abbas gave a hard-line speech, stating that 24 years had passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords, an interim agreement that set a five-year period for ending the Israeli occupation.  Today, he asked what was left of that hope.  Israel continued to pursue its settlements, breaching all international conventions and resolutions on the question of Palestine.  The United Nations bore a legal, moral and humanitarian obligation to end the occupation and enable Palestinians to live in freedom in their independent State, with East Jerusalem as its capital along the 4 June 1967 borders.  Doing so would deprive terrorist groups of a rallying cry that they exploited to promote their repugnant ideas.

He pressed Great Britain “to rectify the grave injustice inflicted on Palestinian people when issued Balfour Declaration, promising Jews a national homeland in Palestine – despite the fact that it was inhabited … … 97% of population were Palestinians…The British have not taken any steps to correct this historical injustice against our people – should apologize and provide us with compensation and recognize the state of Palestine.  Even worse, in November they want to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of this crime against our people – the silence from the international community as to the aggression of the Israel government has emboldened Israel – I remind you that Israel violated international resolutions since its establishment….”

“The two-State solution is today in jeopardy,” he said.  Palestine had called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation and prosecute Israeli officials involved in settlement activities, and would continue to pursue its accession to international conventions, protocols and organizations.  Palestine had upheld its responsibilities towards its people in the Gaza Strip, repeatedly affirming that “Gaza will not be the Palestinian State” and that “there can be no Palestinian State without Gaza”.  He expressed gratitude for the agreement reached in Cairo aimed at nullifying measures taken by Hamas following division of the area and formation of a government.

To save the two-State solution, he urged the United Nations to help end the Israeli occupation within a set timeframe and implement the Arab Peace Initiative.  It should work to end all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; ensure international protection of the land and people of the State of Palestine in line with resolutions 605 (1987), 672 (1990), 673 (1990) and 904 (1994); and demand that Israel commit to the 1967 borders as the basis for the two-State solution.  He similarly urged Member States that recognized Israel to proclaim that their recognition was based on the 1967 borders, and thus align themselves with international resolutions.

States should also end their involvement and support to the illegal Israeli colonial regime in the occupied State of Palestine, he said, pressing those that had not yet recognized the State of Palestine to do so, in fulfillment of the principle of equality.  For its part, the Security Council should approve the State of Palestine’s application for full United Nations membership, while the broader international community should continue providing economic and financial support to Palestinians to achieve self-reliance, as well as support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Abbas Meets with Trump

Later, before a bilateral meeting with United States President Donald Trump, Abbas said this meeting “attests to your seriousness” to “achieve the deal of the century,” during this year or in the coming months. And we are very certain that “you Mr President are determined” to bring peace in the Middle East. And “this gives us the assurance and the confidence that we are on the verge of real peace” between the Palestinian and the Israelis, he said.

“We have met with our brave and active delegation” more than 20 times after January 20, Abbas said. “This is an indication of how serious you are” about peace in the Middle East.

“You will find utmost seriousness on our part to achieve peace,” President Abbas said because it is in the interest of Israel and Palestine.

“We can coexist peacefully together,” the President said. “Once again Mr. President, we count on you.”

Trump said he has been hearing about peace in the Middle East since the time he was a little boy. And for so many years “I have been hearing about” peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We are fighting very hard, we are trying very hard” to achieve this peace. “If we do it, it would be a great great legacy for everybody,” Trump said.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Netanyahu to UN General Assembly: ‘After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his address to the General Assembly Sept. 19, 2017, pointed to “a revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations,” heaped effusive praise on US President Donald Trump, but chided the United Nations as the “epicenter for anti-Semitism” in its resolutions. But he used a good portion of his address to follow Trump’s condemnation of the Iran nuclear agreement (which Trump has hinted he would de-certify). Netanyahu called to “fix or nix” the Iran nuclear agreement, heaping harsh attacks on Iran as a purveyor of terror in the region. Later, Iranian President Rouhani and Palestinian President Abbas hurled attacks back at Israel, a reminder of why the conflicts are so intractable. Here is a highlighted transcript of Netanyahu’s speech- Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we’re in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations. This is happening because so many countries around the world have finally woken up to what Israel can do for them. Those countries now recognize what brilliant investors, like Warren Buffet, and great companies, like Google and Intel, what they’ve recognized and known for years: that Israel is THE innovation nation. THE place for cutting-edge technology and agriculture, in water, in cybersecurity, in medicine, in autonomous vehicles. You name it, we’ve got it.

Those countries now also recognize Israel’s exceptional capabilities in fighting terrorism. In recent years, Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. Now, you may not know this, but your governments do, and they’re working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe. I stood here last year on this podium, and I spoke about this profound change in Israel’s standing around the world. And just look at what has happened since, in one year.

Hundreds of presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other leaders have visited Israel, many for the first time. Of these many visits, two were truly historic. In May, President Trump became the first American president to include Israel in his first visit abroad. President Trump stood at the Western Wall, at the foot of the Temple Mount, where the Jewish people – or rather the Jewish people’s temples stood for nearly 1,000 years, and when the president touched those ancient stones, he touched our hearts forever.

In July, Prime Minister Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. You may have seen ten pictures. We were on a beach in Hadera, we rode together in a Jeep outfitted with a portable desalination device that some thriving Israeli entrepreneur invented. We took off our shoes, waded into the Mediterranean, and drank seawater that had been purified only a few minutes earlier. We imagined the endless possibilities for India, for Israel, for all of humanity.

In the past year, Israel has hosted so many world leaders, and I had the honor of representing my country on six different continents. One year, six continents. I went to Africa, where I saw Israeli innovators increasing crop yields, turning air into water, fighting AIDS. I went to Asia, where we deepened our relations with China and with Singapore and expanded our cooperation with our Muslim friends in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. I went to Europe, where in London and Paris, Saloniki and Budapest, we enhanced our security and economic ties. I went to Australia, becoming the first Israeli prime minister to visit our great allies down under, and just last week, I went to South America, visiting Argentina and Colombia, and then I went on to Mexico, becoming, if you can believe it, the first Israeli prime minister ever to visit Latin America.

After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world.

(Applause)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

One year, six continents. Now, it’s true: I haven’t yet visited Antarctica, but one day, I hope to go there. I want to go there, too, because I heard that penguins are also enthusiastic supporters of Israel. Now, you laugh, but penguins have no difficulty recognizing that some things are black and white, are right and wrong, and unfortunately, when it comes to UN decisions about Israel, that simple recognition is too often absent.

It was absent last December when the Security Council passed an anti-Israel resolution that set back the cause of peace. It was absent last May when the World Health Organization adopted – you have to listen to this – the World Health Organization adopted a Syrian-sponsored resolution that criticized Israel for health conditions on the Golan Heights. As the great John McEnroe would say, you cannot be serious. I mean, this is preposterous. Syria has barrel-bombed, starved, gassed and murdered hundreds of thousands of its own citizens and wounded millions more, while Israel has provided life-saving medical care to thousands of Syrian victims of that very same carnage. Yet who does the World Health Organization? Israel.

So is there no limit to the UN’s absurdities when it comes to Israel? Well, apparently not. Because in July, UNESCO declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron a Palestinian World Heritage Site. That’s worse than fake news; that’s fake history. Mind you, it’s true that Abraham, the father of both Ishmael and Isaac, is buried there, but so, too, are Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca – Sarah’s a Jewish name, by the way – Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, who just happened to be patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. Well, you won’t read about that in the latest UNESCO report, but if you want to, you can read about it in a somewhat weightier publication. It’s called “the Bible.” I highly recommend it. I hear it even got four and a half out of five stars on Amazon. And it’s a great read. I read it every week.

Ladies and gentlemen, a moment to be serious. Despite the absurdities, despite the repetition of these farcical events, there is change, slowly but surely. There are signs of positive change, even at the United Nations.

Mr. Secretary-General, I very much appreciate your statement that denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism, pure and simple. Now that’s important because for too long, the epicenter of global anti-Semitism has been right here at the UN, and while it may take many years, I’m absolutely confident that the revolution in Israel’s ties with individual nations will ultimately be reflected here in this hall of nations.

I say that because there’s also a marked change in the positions of some of our key friends. Thanks to President Trump’s unequivocal support for Israel in this body, that positive change is gathering force. So thank you, President Trump. Thank you for supporting Israel at the UN, and thank you for your support, Ambassador Nikki Haley. Thank you for speaking the truth about Israel.

(Applause)

But ladies and gentlemen, here at the UN, we must also speak the truth about Iran, as President Trump did so powerfully this morning. Now, as you know, I’ve been ambassador to the UN, and I’m a long-serving Israeli prime minister, so I’ve listened to countless speeches in this hall, but I can say this: None were bolder, none were more courageous and forthright than the one delivered by President Trump today. President Trump rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran – he called it “an embarrassment.” Well, I couldn’t agree with him more. And here’s why: Iran vows to destroy my country. Every day, including by its chief of staff the other day.

Iran is conducting a campaign of conquest across the Middle East, and Iran is developing ballistic missiles to threaten the entire world.

Two years ago, I stood here and explained why the Iranian nuclear deal not only doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb, but actually paves it. Because the restrictions placed on Iran’s nuclear program have what’s called “a sunset clause.” Now let me explain what that term means. It means that in a few years, those restrictions will be automatically removed, not by a change in Iran’s behavior, not by a lessening of its terror or its aggression: they’ll just be removed by a mere change in the calendar. And I warned that when that sunset comes, a dark shadow will be cast over the entire Middle East and the world because Iran will then be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons. That’s why I said two years ago that the greater danger is not that Iran will rush to a single bomb by breaking the deal, but that Iran will be able to build many bombs by keeping the deal.

Now, in the last few months, we’ve all seen how dangerous even a few nuclear weapons can be in the hands of a small rogue regime. Now imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian-Islamist empire with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on earth. I know there are those who still defend the dangerous deal with Iran, arguing that it will block Iran’s path to the bomb. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what they said about the nuclear deal with North Korea, and we all know how that turned out.

Unfortunately, if nothing changes, this deal will turn out exactly the same way. That’s why Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it. Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability. Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is a suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation. But above all, fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause. And beyond fixing this bad deal, we must also stop Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and roll back its growing aggression in the region.

I remember when we had these debates. As you know, I took a fairly active role in them – and many supporters of the deal naively believed that it would somehow moderate Iran. It would make it a responsible member, so they said, of the international community. Well, you know, I strongly disagreed. I warned that when the sanctions on Iran would be removed, Iran would behave like a hungry tiger unleashed, not joining the community of nations, but devouring nations one after the other. And that’s precisely what Iran is doing today.

From the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, from Tehran to Tartus, an Iranian curtain is descending across the Middle East. Iran spreads this curtain of tyranny and terror over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, and it pledges to extinguish the light of Israel. Today, I have a simple message to Ayatollah Khamenei, the dictator of Iran: The light of Israel will never be extinguished.

(Applause)

נצח ישראל לא ישקר.

(Applause)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions. We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria or in Lebanon for use against us. And we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border. As long as Iran’s regime seeks the destruction of Israel, Iran will face no fiercer enemy than Israel.

But I also have a message today for the people of Iran: You are not our enemy. You are our friends. (Farsi: Shoma duste ma hesteed.) One day, my Iranian friends, you will be free from the evil regime that terrorizes you, hangs gays, jails journalists, tortures political prisoners and shoots innocent women like Neda Soltan, leaving her choking on her own blood on the streets of Tehran. I have not forgotten Neda. I’m sure you haven’t, too. And so, the people of Iran, when your day of liberation finally comes, the friendship between our two ancient peoples will surely flourish once again.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel knows that in confronting the Iranian regime, we are not alone. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those in the Arab world who share our hopes for a brighter future. We’ve made peace with Jordan and Egypt, whose courageous president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi I met here last night. I appreciate President al-Sissi’s support for peace, and I hope to work closely with him and other leaders in the region to advance peace.

Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. Yesterday, President Trump and I discussed this, all of this, at great length. I appreciate President Trump’s leadership, his commitment to stand by Israel’s side, his commitment to advance a peaceful future for all. Together, we can seize the opportunities for peace, and together we can confront the great dangers of Iran.

The remarkable alliance between the United States and Israel has never been stronger, never been deeper. And Israel is deeply grateful for the support of the Trump administration, the American Congress and the American people.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 72nd General Assembly, Sept. 19, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ladies and gentlemen, in this year of historic visits and historic anniversaries, Israel has so much to be grateful for. One hundred and twenty years ago, Theodore Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress to transform our tragic past into a brilliant future by establishing the Jewish state. One hundred years ago, the Balfour Declaration advanced Herzl’s vision by recognizing the right of the Jewish people to a national home in our ancestral homeland. Seventy years ago, the United Nations further advanced that vision by adopting a resolution supporting the establishment of a Jewish state. And 50 years ago, we reunited our eternal capital, Jerusalem, achieving a miraculous victory against those who sought to destroy our state.

Theodore Herzl was our modern Moses, and his dream has come true. We’ve returned to the Promised Land, revived our language, ingathered our exiles, and build a modern, thriving democracy. Tomorrow evening, Jews around the world will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of our new year. It’s a time of reflection, and we look back with wonder at the remarkable, the miraculous rebirth of our nation, and we look ahead with pride to the remarkable contributions Israel will continue to make to all nations.

You look around you, and you will see these contributions every day. In the food you eat, the water you drink, the medicines you take, the cars you drive, the cell phones you use, and in so many other ways that are transforming our world. You see it in the smile of an African mother in a remote village who, thanks to an Israeli innovation, no longer must walk eight hours a day to bring water to her children. You see it in the eyes of an Arab child who was flown to Israel to undergo a life-saving heart operation. And you see it in the faces of the people in earthquake-stricken Haiti and Nepal who were rescued from the rubble and given new life by Israeli doctors. As the prophet Isaiah said, (says in Hebrew first) “I’ve made you alight onto the nations, bringing salvation to the ends of the earth.”

Today, 27 hundred years after Isaiah spoke those prophetic words, Israel is becoming a rising power among the nations, and at long last, its light is shining across the continents, bringing hope and salvation to the ends of the earth.

Happy new year. Shanah tovah from Israel. Thank you.

Iran Exerts Right of Reply

The representative of Iran, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the representative of the Israeli regime had made unfounded allegations against his country.  The nature of that regime was founded on aggression, occupation, suppression, violence and terror, he said, adding that in the information age, “weapons of mass deception” were becoming more useless day by day.  That representative could have explained why his regime had invaded all its neighbours, and even countries outside its region, waging 15 wars in its short lifetime.  Why did that regime continue to disrespect resolutions adopted by the Assembly, the Security Council and other United Nations bodies, he asked, and why was it a State sponsor of terrorism, including support for ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) with arms and other military assistance.  It was the world’s last apartheid regime and the warden of its biggest prison, arresting and jailing Palestinians and imposing an inhumane blockade on the Gaza Strip.  He went on to ask why that regime, the only nuclear weapons possessor in the Middle East, lectured the world on non-proliferation and Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.  The representative of the Israeli regime had hypocritically tried to abuse the Assembly by accusing others and stirring anxiety about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, he said.  It was a regime that favored conflict and war over diplomacy, he added.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

UN Security Council Reaffirms Primary Role of States in Preventing Conflict, Unanimously Adopting Resolution on Peacekeeping Reform

The UN Security Council votes unanimously, Sept. 21, 2017, to adopt a resolution to reform peacekeeping activities. Vice President Mike Pence, sitting next to UK Prime Minister Teresa May, voted on behalf of the US © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2378 (2017) to reform United Nations peacekeeping operations (such as the famed Blue Helmets), that the principle of the “primacy of politics” — including through mediation, ceasefire monitoring and assisting in the implementation of peace accords — should be the hallmark of the United Nations approach to resolving conflict.

United States Vice President Mike Pence who gave remarks to the Council, held up his hand to vote in favor of the resolution. The US has been arguing in favor of reforming operations and finances of UN operations.

The Council noted that the prevention of conflict remained a primary responsibility of States, and actions undertaken within the framework of conflict prevention by the Organization should support and complement conflict-prevention roles of national Governments.  It also reaffirmed the duty of all States to settle international disputes by peaceful means, and recognized that the good offices of the Secretary-General could help resolve conflict.

The Council took note of the Secretary-General’s initiatives to pursue the structural reform of the Secretariat to reinforce the United Nations peace and security architecture.  It also underlined the importance of adequate implementation and follow up of peacekeeping reform in accordance with existing mandates and procedures.

The Council requested that the Secretary-General provide a comprehensive annual briefing to the 15-nation organ on reform of United Nations peacekeeping every 12 months to be followed by a debate.  It also underscored the need to enhance the efficiency of United Nations peacekeeping by improving mission planning and increasing the number of relevant pledges of capabilities.

By other terms, the Council reiterated that regional organizations have the responsibility to secure human, financial, logistical and other resources for their organizations, and recognized that ad hoc and unpredictable financing arrangements for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council and consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter may impact the effectiveness of those peace support operations.

The Council also requested that the Secretary-General, in coordination with the African Union, should present in his next Report on Strengthening the Partnership between the United Nations and the African Union on Issues of Peace and Security in Africa, including the Work of the United Nations Office to the African Union, a reporting framework that would establish clear, consistent and predictable reporting channels, including fiduciary and mandate delivery, between the Secretariat, the Commission and the two Councils, as well as standardized reporting requirements.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Council President for September, said the 15-nation organ should send a clear message of support for peacekeeping reform efforts.  Practical steps, such as forging new partnerships, were critical as the Organization could not deal with emerging challenges to peace alone.

Vice-President Michael R. Pence of the United States also called for fundamental reforms to peacekeeping, saying that, when a mission succeeded, its work should not be prolonged, and that those not fulfilling Council mandates should be closed. He spent much of his remarks re-stating points that President Donald Trump had made in his address to the General Assembly the day before.

US VP Mike Pence and UK Prime Minister Teresa May vote in the UN Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 to adopt a resolution to reform UN Peacekeeping activities © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Speaking about current world events, he noted the issues surrounding the terrorist attacks occurring in Europe as well as the ballistic missile deployments of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  He added that, if the United States was forced to defend itself and its allies, it would do so “with military power that is effective and overwhelming,” repeating the points Trump had made.

Sergey V. Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that his country believed settling conflicts must be through political processes, including using national dialogue.  “Blue Helmets” should only be deployed with the permission of the relevant State and, given the use of intelligence units in peacekeeping, how information was controlled and maintained must be closely examined.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko was largely ignored in his pleas for UN peacekeeping assistance to stave off Russian Federation’s aggression that had caused tens of thousands of casualties and the displacement of some 1.8 million people.  He reaffirmed his request to the Council to deploy a United Nations operation and obtain a withdrawal of all foreign personnel from his country to restore its sovereignty.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko gets no acknowledgement in the UN Security Council for his plea for UN peacekeeping assistance to stave off Russian Federation aggression © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia emphasized the benefits of reforms, pointing out that research proved that peacekeeping operations not only reduced the numbers of civilians killed, but were ultimately cost effective.  The United Nations peacekeeping budget was less than 0.5 per cent of global military spending, and that figure was shared among all 193 Member States.

Several delegations, including those of Sweden and the United Kingdom, stressed the importance of the inclusion of women in peacekeeping.  Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden said that 70 years of peacekeeping had shown that the full, equal and active participation of women was vital to its success.  Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom underscored the importance of including women in peacekeeping operations, as well as providing all troops with the equipment needed.

Tarō Kōno, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, also highlighted the importance of women in peacekeeping, as well as youth, given that those most affected by conflicts were women and children.  Japan had plans to host an outreach seminar to encourage the promotion of women to mission leadership positions.

 

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa underscored the progress made through the partnership of the African Union with the United Nations, noting the importance of predictable financing for the Union that was authorized by the Council.  The Union’s Peace Fund should also be reinvigorated to spur its work on mediation and preventative diplomacy.  Wang Yi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that the Council should develop a way to finance African Union operations.

Speaking before the resolution’s adoption, Secretary-General António Guterres said that peacekeeping was a highly cost-effective instrument.  The United Nations was often the sole party to act in peace operations, addressing urgent situations while contributing to long-term solutions.  However, reform was needed and that would require the Organization make several critical shifts, the first being the recognition of the primacy of politics.  Peace operations should be deployed in support of active diplomatic efforts, rather than as a substitute, he said.  In addition, if the Organization was more effective at prevention, it could reduce the danger faced by colleagues in uniform.  Peace operations, he noted, should be prepared, with better mobility, equipment and intelligence.

UK Prime Minister Teresa May and US Vice President Mike Pence share a moment at the UN Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that the Council debate provided the chance to examine financing approaches and bolster the partnership with the United Nations.  The Union’s peace operations should be supported through United Nations assessed contributions, he said, noting that sustainable financing was essential for sustainable solutions.  For that reason, judicious decisions about individual missions such as Mali and the Central African Republic should be made to ensure a fair approach to financing.

José Ramos-Horta, Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, noted that the current Secretary-General had made a commitment to prevention, as well as the “surge of diplomacy”.  That had been reflected in his insistence on a system-wide commitment to that prevention.  The three peace and security reviews of peace operations all converged on that need for conflict prevention.  The United Nations should invest in its own capacities for prevention and mediation and those core functions should be funded through the Organization’s regular budget.  Furthermore, the Council’s decisions in mandating peace operations based on such planning and reviews should always reflect the primacy of politics, he said, hoping the Council would be stronger in its insistence upon and support for the political strategies that peace operations were deployed to pursue.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as other high-level officials from Senegal, Egypt, Ukraine, Italy, Kazakhstan, France, Uruguay, Indonesia, Nepal, Norway and Lithuania.  The representative of Bolivia also spoke.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 1:33 p.m.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, thanked Ethiopia for being at the frontline of some of the most challenging peacekeeping missions of the United Nations.  The Security Council was gathered today to fortify that flagship activity.  Fifty-five peacekeeping missions had successfully completed their mandates, while four were soon to close.  A smooth transition in those missions was crucial.  Peacekeeping, he noted, was a highly cost-effective instrument.  The United Nations was often the sole party to act in peace operations, addressing urgent situations while contributing to long-term solutions.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The United Nations must make several critical shifts, he said.  It must recognize the primacy of politics so that peace operations were deployed in support of active diplomatic efforts, and not as a substitute.  If the Organization did better on prevention, it could reduce the dangerous demands on colleagues in uniforms.  Peace operations should be properly prepared, with more mobility, better equipment, enhanced training and intelligence.  They should also embody United Nations values, and sexual exploitation and abuse must be stamped out.  Member States were now certifying, prior to deployment, that none of their personnel had a prior history of misconduct, and the Organization had just appointed its first victims’ rights advocate.  The partnership with the African Union, with African States assuming important responsibilities for their continent, was key, as was working with the European Union.

Peacekeeping forces were not supposed to perform counter-terrorism tasks, he said, and complementarity between United Nations and regional organizations was key.  Clarity of mandates and adequate funding was vital to peacekeeping work.  In the coming months, the implementation of reforms would move forward, as the Organization worked to adapt peacekeeping operations to meet old and new tests alike.

MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said the debate provided an opportunity to examine financing approaches and bolster the partnership with the United Nations.  Given their unique position, African Union peace operations should be supported through United Nations-assessed contributions, he said, emphasizing that sustainable solutions required sustainable financing.  Decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis resulting from joint analyses of each situation, he said, adding that “our institutional credibility is at stake”.  Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter highlighted the role of regional organizations in maintaining international peace and security.

With that in mind, judicious decisions about missions must be made, he said, pointing to recent examples in Mali and the Central African Republic.  Taking such an approach to financing was “not a matter of charity, but of fairness”, he said, calling on the Security Council to make decisions that encouraged the notable progress of the African Union and its member States.   Reaffirming the importance of the strategic partnership between the African Union and the United Nations through a resolution on the principle of financing, he said “we must cut the red tape that hampers us from achieving the desired results”.

JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA, Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, said that his report’s recommendations had been well received by Member States.  The document included recommendations from people from many walks of life, from police officers who saw war up close to community leaders and activists who lived amid conflicts.  He acknowledged the extent to which former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had embraced the recommendations, and the consideration they had been given by the General Assembly and the Security Council.  But the essential shifts advocated by the Panel remained to be achieved.

The three peace and security reviews of peace operations, peacebuilding architecture and the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, converged on the crucial need for more effective conflict prevention and for working to sustain peace before, during and after conflict, he noted.  The current Secretary-General had made a strong commitment to prevention and the necessary “surge of diplomacy”, which was reflected in his insistence on an integrated system-wide commitment to prevention.  National leaders and stakeholders had the primary responsibility to prevent conflicts and engage in mediation, and the Organization should seek to support local and regional prevention and mediation partners.  The report emphasized that the United Nations should invest in its own capacities for prevention and mediation and in its capacity to help others.  Those core functions should be funded through the Organization’s regular budget.

Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had asked the Panel to review peace operations, not peacekeeping missions alone, he noted.  That should lead to a continuum of responses and smoother transitions between different phases of missions.  The proposals for restructuring the peace and security pillar that Secretary-General Guterres had now outlined met the Panel’s two most major concerns.  The management of both peacekeeping operations and large field-based special political missions by the same department would enable situation-specific responses tailored to context and smoother transitions as those contexts evolved. The single political-operational structure under regional Assistant Secretaries-General that would link the two reconfigured departments would not only overcome duplication and rivalry, but would also ensure that peace operations were designed and managed within their regional context and in closer consultation with the relevant regional organizations.

The Council had been concerned to see reviews of individual peace operations carried out, and the report recommended a review of long-standing missions to assess their effectiveness, he said.  The Panel addressed the shortcomings of the Secretariat’s policy, analysis and strategy development processes, and stressed the need for a core capacity for strategic analysis and assessment, including in the planning and review of peace operations.  The Secretary-General’s establishment of a Strategic Planning and Monitoring Unit in his Executive Office was precisely the reform required to ensure better planning and reviews.

The Council’s decisions in mandating peace operations based on such planning and reviews should always reflect the primacy of politics, he said, and he hoped the Council would be stronger in its insistence upon and support for the political strategies that peace operations were deployed to pursue.  Both the Brahimi and Panel reports emphasized that mandates and resources, expectations and capabilities must be in alignment if peace operations were not to be set up for failure.  The emphasis placed in the report on partnerships with regional organizations, particularly the African Union, was important, and he welcomed the Joint United Nation-African Union Framework for Enhancing Partnership on Peace and Security launched in April.

The Security Council then unanimously adopted resolution 2378 (2017).

Statements

HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Council President for September, said the resolution’s adoption held particular significance to his country.  As a troop-contributing country, Ethiopia took pride in participating in peacekeeping operations and believed that the Council had a key role in strengthening peacekeeping in authorizing deployment and reviewing operations.  Yet, as much as reform was important, the Council did not have a dedicated debate on the issue until now, at a critical time, during the opening of the General Assembly session when Heads of State were present.  For its part, the Council must send a clear message of support for the Secretary-General’s reform efforts.  Enhancing partnerships was a key area, as the United Nations could not handle new and emerging peace challenges alone, so forging such relationships was a sensible approach.  To do so, practical steps must be taken through, among other things, the sharing of burdens.  “There’s a great deficit here,” he said, emphasizing that African Union-led operations could and should be partly financed through United Nations-assessed contributions.  “This is not only fair and appropriate, but in the best interest of security.”

MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, said that, at a time when peacekeeping operations were being targeted and sometimes faced resistance from host countries, implementing the Secretary-General’s proposal could mean that peacekeeping efforts could enter a new phase.  Recent meetings with the United Nations and the African Union could help to advance progress in that regard.  Pointing at the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the most deadly operation on the continent, he said that, despite the presence of 10,000 “Blue Helmets”, “our soldiers are in a position of insecurity”.  Given that sometimes peace had to be “enforced”, it was essential that missions were adequately equipped and staffed.  Going forward, the Council must examine efforts to strengthen the triangular dialogue between itself, the troop-contributing countries and the host Government to foster a collective trust, with close attention paid to engaging effective mediators.

ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI, President of Egypt, recalling that his country was amongst the very first to contribute to peacekeeping missions, said that such operations should not be an alternative to preventive diplomacy and mediation.  A new strategic approach must include a comprehensive, pragmatic plan and the international community must prioritize efforts to resolve conflicts, rather than “managing” them, which resulted in a lack of political solutions.  Furthermore, peacekeeping operations must not substitute the role of Governments and host State institutions, nor must they become trusteeship mechanisms.  In regards to certain Member States attempting to monopolize the mandate formulation and in the absence of consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries, he called for the Council to support the establishment of an effective and institutionalized triangular consultative mechanism among stakeholders.  While the Security Council had the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, the role of regional organizations was vital, he stressed, highlighting that of the African Union and its successful partnership with the United Nations.  The potential role of the League of Arab States could also help establish peace and stability in the Arab region.

President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al Sisi addresses the UN Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

PETRO POROSHENKO, President of Ukraine, said that the United Nations must be more proactive in strengthening peacekeeping considering the growing threats to international peace and security.  Previous reviews of the sector remained under-implemented in practice, but the possibility of success increased with the proactive role of the Secretary-General and a greater focus on the protection of civilians.  Due attention must also be given to proper funding and sufficient capabilities, including aviation assets and other modern technologies, in the effort to move from traditional peacekeeping to “smart” peacekeeping.  Commending efforts to eradicate sexual abuse by United Nations staff, he noted that Ukraine had signed the compact on the issue as part of its proud long-term partnership with the Organization’s peacekeeping efforts.  Unfortunately, he stated, his country was now in need of peacekeeping services because of the Russian Federation’s aggression that had caused tens of thousands of casualties and the displacement of some 1.8 million people.  He reaffirmed his request to the Council to deploy a United Nations operation and obtain a withdrawal of all foreign personnel from his country to restore its sovereignty.

MICHAEL R. PENCE, Vice-President of the United States, said that the most important mission of the United Nations was keeping the peace.  Citing President Donald Trump’s words the previous day, he reiterated that everyone should put their country first, as Americans would always put their nation first.  But “America first” did not mean the United States alone.  He reiterated the call for fundamental reforms to United Nations peacekeeping, noting that missions should support a political solution, have the consent of the host country and have an exit strategy.  When a mission succeeded, its work must not be prolonged, and when it failed to fulfill the mandates of the Council, it must be ended.

Turning to Europe, he said the Russian Federation sought to redraw international borders by force, and he also spoke of radical terrorism attacks that had taken place in Barcelona, Paris and London.

Addressing the issue of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that the world had seen in the last few days that country’s regime deploy ballistic weapons, which threatened the world with “unthinkable loss of human life”.  The Council had adopted two resolutions applying sanctions against the regime.  The United States would bring its full range of power to bear on Pyongyang.  “All options are on the table,” he said, noting that, if the United States was forced to defend itself and its allies, it would do so “with military power that is effective and overwhelming”.

Vice President Mike Pence called out Russia, again threatened North Korea with overwhelming military power, raised issue of terrorism and human rights in his remarks to the Security Council © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

To keep peace, the United Nations needed to advance the cause of human rights, and it was no coincidence that some of the most dangerous regimes in the world were some of the worst abusers of human rights.  Some were current members of the Human Rights Council, such as Cuba and Venezuela.  He said that the Council also singled out Israel at every meeting, and had passed 70 resolutions condemning that State, while largely ignoring the largest human rights abusers.  The Council should be reformed.  Concluding, he drew notice to the “great tragedy involving Burma” that had shocked Americans and decent people, with 400,000 Rohingya people who had been forced to flee.  He called on the Council and the United Nations to take swift action to bring that crisis to an end.

STEFAN LÖFVEN, Prime Minister of Sweden, honouring the memory of Zaida Catalán, a Swedish United Nations expert who had been killed on mission earlier in the year, called for the political will, courage and ability to adapt peacekeeping so that it remained relevant and adequately resourced to support political processes and solutions.  To achieve that goal, emerging threats must be addressed and the root causes of conflict, often transboundary and complex, must be tackled.  Stressing the need for stronger collaboration, he highlighted the African Union’s new partnership framework with the United Nations, which must be ensured sustainable and predictable financing, as well as clear cooperation on the ground.  The partnership between the European Union and the Organization could be further developed, as well as the trilateral relationship between all three bodies.  Peacekeeping should evolve based on evidence and lessons learned.  “Seventy years of peacekeeping has taught us about the need for the full, equal and active participation of women,” he said, emphasizing his country’s efforts towards that aim.  Noting that Sweden’s largest current force contribution was to MINUSMA, he underscored the need to work “smartly” and to pool resources.  Recalling Dag Hammarskjöld, who had also lost his life serving the United Nations, he urged national leaders and members of the Council to choose, invest in and deliver peace.

PAOLO GENTILONI, Prime Minister of Italy, said the “Sustaining Peace” agenda required a holistic approach, a notion that the Secretary-General’s proposals had pushed further.  Concrete actions must now effectively implement such an approach, he said, outlining Italy’s strategy.  As a troop-contributing country, Italy had provided assistance and training based on the principle of zero tolerance for sexual abuse and exploitation.  The Council had already acknowledged the role of regional organizations in providing local solutions to local problems, he said, noting the efforts of the Group of Five for the Sahel (Sahel G-5) joint force.  Highlighting other efforts, including initiatives to protect cultural heritage, he said budgetary and financial support were essential to ensuring success for long-term solutions.  Although not an easy task, it was the Council’s duty, as mentioned in the United Nations Charter.

THERESA MAY, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said the Council had a responsibility, and for peacekeepers to succeed, a political approach was needed to address conflict situations.  But, politics did not end with a peacekeeping mission on the ground, and the Council must be willing and capable to discharge its duty.  Given that the organ’s response to the situation in South Sudan was wanting, it should examine its own actions with a view to ensuring better planning and stronger performance by peacekeepers on the ground.  Effective mission planning depended on clear mandates built on a shared understanding of the situation.  More pledges were needed, but they must transform into troops on the ground, she said, emphasizing that, as peacekeeping was being reformed and adjusted, the right troops must be on hand for relevant deployment.  Underlining the importance of including women in peacekeeping operations, providing all troops with necessary equipment and implementing the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, she welcomed further discussions on the resolution, regarding, among other things, finding a creative solution for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  “Together we can deliver better peacekeeping and this resolution was an important step,” she said.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Teresa May addresses the Security Council, Sept. 21, 2017 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WANG YI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said United Nations peacekeeping operations were facing new challenges and the principles of the United Nations Charter should form the cornerstone of reform efforts.  The pursuit of political settlements should remain central to peacekeeping initiatives, as enshrined in the Charter.  The reform should be supported by United Nations partners, fully leverage the role of regional and subregional organizations and help to foster a sustainable security environment on the ground.  In recent years, some African countries had faced security challenges and the international community must support those States to find solutions.  In addition, support for capacity-building must be strengthened, including establishing permanent and rapid-response forces.  Financial support must also be scaled up, he said, calling on the Council to come up with a method to finance African Union operations.  As a major troop-contributing country and financial contributor, China had dispatched thousands of personnel, formed an 8,000-strong standby force, provided training to numerous peacekeepers and deployed helicopters to areas in need.  Peace was hard to make and harder to keep, he said, pledging support for United Nations peacekeeping operations and the African Union.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, fully supported the new trajectory for peacekeeping, including structural changes as well as a strengthened emphasis on prevention.  Reforms must, he commented, uphold the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity while recognizing the obligation of States to fulfil their responsibility for the protection of civilians.  He affirmed the importance of clear and achievable mandates that moved away from mere military arrangements, with more coherent programmes, new partnerships and cooperation between all organs of the United Nations system and other stakeholders.  Cooperation with regional partners should be strengthened and accountability by all United Nations staff must be ensured.  The latest technologies should be employed judiciously and in accordance with legal requirements.  The concerns of youth and the participation of women must be integrated into all endeavours.  Affirming his country’s commitment to peacekeeping as an emerging troop contributor, he stated that Kazakhstan would continue to increase preparedness training as it strove to become a regional centre for such activities.

JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, said that, in peacekeeping, results were needed to respond to crises, as were the means to do so, with the two-fold requirement being the Council’s unique responsibility.  Efforts must push for more effective peacekeeping and the recognition of when to end a mission.  In South Sudan, for instance, a civil war and humanitarian crisis was ongoing, while in Mali, the spread of terrorist groups made it the deadliest peacekeeping mission.  But, expectations in those and some other missions must be managed.  Efforts must be made to help States boost their capacity-building and security sector reform.  States must be engaged in their own security, as could be seen in initiatives undertaken by the Sahel G-5 States.  More broadly, tools must be developed to address emerging challenges such as terrorism and all parties must have coordinated and concerted responses to such threats.  The United Nations and the African Union were helping to provide meaningful responses to crises on the continent, he said, noting the importance of settling discussions on financing.  While some States were in disagreement over the financing of African Union missions, he said “that is the future”.

SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said peacekeeping needed to be tailored to the situation on the ground.  Amid reform efforts and the crafting of appropriate approaches, the Russian Federation believed settling conflicts must be through political processes, including using national dialogue.  The primary principle of peacekeepers must be respected and Blue Helmets should be deployed only with permission of the relevant State.  Mandates that included the use of force must thoroughly be calibrated to specific situations.  Given the recent trend of the Secretariat towards using intelligence units in peacekeeping, he said relevant conditions must be met and how information was controlled and maintained must be closely examined, as it would be inadmissible to loosely interpret guidelines in that regard.  A key factor in ensuring international peace and security was a genuine partnership, he said, welcoming the role of regional organizations.  Highlighting the important work done by the African Union, he said that only proactive efforts by Africans themselves would lead to success solutions to crises on their continent.  Support was needed to help African States to deal with situations such as the flood of weapons spilling from Libya into Mali and neighbouring States, and terrorist groups’ activities in Somalia and other countries.  Turning to another concern, he said a United Nations mission in south-eastern Ukraine could be an effective tool to implementing the Minsk agreements.

TARŌ KŌNO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, noted that his country had dispatched more than 12,500 personnel over the past 25 years to 27 missions, including Cambodia, Golan Heights, Timor-Leste and Haiti.  Recently, Japan’s engineering units had been deployed to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), repairing approximately 260 kilometres of road and developing 500,000 square meters of land.  In regards to the gap between field requirements and peacekeepers’ capability and equipment, his country had been a strong partner in developing the United Nations Project for African Rapid Deployment of Engineering Capabilities in Kenya since 2015.  He also stressed the importance of women in peacekeeping, as well as the human resource development of youth.  Those affected and hurt most from conflicts were women and children.  Women peacekeepers could provide appropriate support and address specific needs.  In that regard, Japan would be hosting an outreach seminar to promote more senior women to be appointed to mission leadership positions.

ENRIQUE LOEDEL, Vice-Minister for Political Affairs of Uruguay, said that, as a troop-contributing State, his country supported the reform process to boost efficiency and effectiveness in fulfilling mandates.  Peacekeeping was a critical and cost-effective tool, and while progress had been made in implementing the reports of the Panel and of the Secretary-General, the success of a peace operation largely depended on responsibility-sharing among stakeholders.  The Council must remain united when discussing policy strategies in engaging actors to ensure the success of lasting solutions.  While improvements had been made, they were not enough.  The Council was duty-bound to acquire the concerned State’s approval for missions.  Once a mission was launched, training was key to ensuring that the entire mandate could be fulfilled.  Underlining the Kigali Principles, he said civilian protection was a critical component of missions.  Budget and staff cuts should only be done with a thorough examination of the mandate, he said, emphasizing the role of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) in that regard.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia) highlighted several reform recommendations, including the Secretary-General’s proposal for a focus on prevention and new ways of planning.  Dialogue, negotiation and the peaceful settlement of conflicts were essential tools, with approaches designed on a case‑by‑case basis that promoted national ownership of mandates.  To prevent conflicts, strengthening dialogue and strategizing with regional organization were critical, as could be seen in cases of cooperation with the United Nations and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union.  Predictable and flexible financing for peacekeeping efforts was also essential, framed by clear mandates and adequately equipped, staffed and trained missions.  Regarding authorizing peace missions with the United Nations and the African Union, financing must be jointly discussed and undertaken as needed.  In response to his counterpart from the United States, he said certain issues that had been discussed in the General Assembly had been brought into the Security Council Chamber today, including the Human Rights Council.  The Non-Aligned Movement, representing two thirds of the Organization’s membership, had declared today their concerns about unilateral pressure, sanctions and the threat of or the use of force against sovereign States in contravention of the United Nations Charter.  Highlighting many issues of concern in that regard, he called on the United States to, among other things, end its decades-long blockade of Cuba and provide economic compensation.

JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, noting significant advances in the peacekeeping partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, stressed the importance of predictable, flexible and sustainable financing for Union operations authorized by the Security Council.  As the United Nations had primary responsibility for international peace and security, it was obligated to provide assessed contributions for such support operations, he stressed.  The Council should explore implementation of each of the four financing model options that had been proposed in that vein on a case-by-case basis.  It should then apply lessons learned as the process proceeded.  In addition, he reiterated commitment to the revitalization of the African Union Peace Fund and support to the three windows of activity to be financed by it, with an emphasis on mediation and preventive diplomacy.  By way of conclusion, he affirmed shared responsibility for bringing about peace, stability and prosperity in line with the Union’s Agenda 2063 and its programme on Silencing the Guns by 2020.

KERSTI KALJULAID, President of Estonia, while calling for peacekeeping missions to have tangible target and exit strategies, urged that operations have built-in flexibility because of inevitable volatile circumstances.  Listening to those in the field, in particular mission commanders, and applying their suggestions, guaranteed automatic adaptions to the changes on the ground.  Partnership with regional organizations, host Governments and local communities was also essential to achieving sustainable peace.  As well, peacekeeping operations needed to be complemented with efforts to improve living conditions of affected populations, including the implementation of visible projects that created jobs and delivered basic social services in the post-conflict phase.  A thorough and broad understanding of conflicts and their root causes were core to sustainable peace, she said, lamenting that MINUSMA would be left without its intelligence unit, which provided decision makers on all levels a unique understanding of the matters at hand.  Research showed that peacekeeping reduced the number of civilians killed.  Such operations were cost-effective, she pointed out, adding that the United Nations peacekeeping budget was less than 0.5 per cent of global military spending and was shared among all 193 Member States.

JUSUF KALLA, Vice-President of Indonesia, supported reform of United Nations peacekeeping considering his country’s long-standing support to the endeavour.  For the effort to succeed, collective and strong political support was needed, he said.  Cooperation between all actors was crucial.  Guidelines must be translated into action.  Preventive diplomacy, mediation and peacebuilding must remain interlinked.  Reform, he stressed, must reflect the actual needs of peacekeepers on the ground, and training was critical.  His country stood ready to contribute in that area and to promote the role of women, he added, stating that the Indonesian Peacekeeping Centre had trained personnel from 30 countries in the past three years.  Describing the contributions of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he urged stronger United Nations engagement with regional organizations.  Indonesia was running for a seat on the Council for the period 2019‑2020 to help create a global ecosystem of peace and stability that encompassed synergy between the peace and development agendas and to strengthen the fight against violent extremism.

KRISHNA BAHADUR MAHARA, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, stressed that impartiality and accountability were core to the success of peacekeeping operations.  His country had participated in peacekeeping missions for over 60 years and was the sixth largest troop contributor, often deployed in the most difficult regions.  While the reform of peacekeeping was critical, such changes should be continuous and not a one-time event.  Political will and participation of all stakeholders was necessary to producing the result “we all want”.  Furthermore, capacity-building should be backed up with resources.  To implement the reforms being called for, the Secretary-General, Security Council, Secretariat and troop-contributing countries should be working together right from the planning page.  “Lets us all move and make peacekeeping successful”, he said, reaffirming Nepal’s commitment to those reforms.

ERNA SOLBERG, Prime Minister of Norway, speaking for the Group of Friends of the High-level Panel (Ethiopia and Republic of Korea), underscored that 65 million people had been displaced in recent times, the highest ever recorded.  The Panel was a milestone towards making peace operations more effective.  There were three areas in which the Security Council could engage.  First, the search for political solutions should guide all peace operations.  Differences must be overcome.  Only then could there be genuine engagement.  No outside engagement could substitute national and local leaders themselves.  Secondly, in regards to the rapid changes around the world, there needed to be a strong global peace led by the United Nations working with regional and subregional organizations, as recently illustrated by the recent African Union and United Nations framework.  She also emphasized there could be no lasting peace in the Sahel without G-5 forces being adequately resourced.  Lastly, she underscored the criticalness of effective delivery in the field, including active engagement with local communities, not the least, women.  Stating she was greatly encouraged by the Secretary-General’s commitment to overhaul management systems, she said that the international community could only go forward “by working together with what unites us rather than what divides us”.

LINAS ANTANAS LINKEVIČIUS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, said that, as a troop-contributor, his country had a great interest in making United Nations peacekeeping more efficient and conformant with current needs.  Protection of civilians must remain a key priority and there must be zero tolerance of sexual abuse by the Organization’s personnel, as spelled out by the compact already signed by his country.  In addition, women’s equal participation in all peacemaking processes must be further strengthened, and the deployment of women’s protection advisers and other gender experts should be further expanded.  Safety and security of all United Nations personnel must remain a high priority, and should be enhanced by new technologies when applicable.  He called upon Member States to unite around the complete reform initiative of the Secretary-General and fully utilize the current momentum to make the necessary advances in United Nations peacekeeping.