Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver, spoke at the US-ASEAN Business Council Wednesday.
He emphasized the need for nations in the region to consider the options offered by the United State and China, which are jockeying for geopolitical and economic influence in the area, before devising their individual Indo-Pacific strategies.
“You don’t choose between countries or capitals but can you choose respect for sovereignty and independence of all nations large and small,” Schriver said. “Can you choose peaceful resolution of disputes? Can you choose free, fair, reciprocal trade and investment, which includes protections for intellectual property? Can you choose to support adherence to international rules and norms including freedom of navigation and overflight?”
Schriver said these were not “U.S. positions or principles or values but more universal.” He made his remarks as skepticism is growing over China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure investment program that comes with “debt risks, governance risks (corruption and procurement), stranded infrastructure, environmental risks and social risks,” according to the World Bank.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a 10-member regional bloc with a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion, a population of 630 million, and a landmass covering more than 4.4 million square kilometers (1.7 million square miles), according to the council’s website. Founded in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, ASEAN has since expanded to include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam.
“There are practical ways that we look forward to working with the member states of ASEAN to uphold the international ideals,” Schriver said. “We look for partners to invest sufficiently in their own defense to strengthen deterrence, to take actions that uphold the rules-based international order which keeps the playing field level.”
“We look for countries to … think carefully about defense sales as you’re not only buying equipment and capability, you’re investing in long-term relationships,” he added.
In May, the U.S. Navy angered China by sailing one of its warships near the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. China claims almost all of the strategic waters, where there are competing claims by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
This report originated with VOA’s Mandarin Service.
The stepped-up Iraqi security measures at Balad air base, just north of the capital, Baghdad, come amid sharply rising tensions in the Middle East between the United States and Iran.
The current regional crisis is rooted in the U.S. withdrawal last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. Washington subsequently re-imposed sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall and cutting deeply into its oil exports.
Gen. Falah Fares told The Associated Press by telephone that the measures include a night-time curfew, boosting security inside and near the base as well as surveillance of nearby areas. He said these measures are being carried out in coordination with the U.S.
“All unnecessary movements have been reduced,” Fares said, adding that the curfew now lasts from sunset until sunrise. He said the change was made after Balad air base, home to a squadron of Iraqi F-16 fighter jets, was hit with three mortar shells last week without inflicting casualties. The curfew had previously been from midnight to sunrise, he said.
Col. Kevin Walker, U.S. Air Forces Central Command Director of Force Protection, denied in a statement later Saturday reports that U.S. forces are evacuating contractors or any other personnel from Balad air base.
“Operations at Balad Air Base are continuing as normal. Claims that personnel are being evacuated are categorically false,” Walker said. “There are no plans at this time to evacuate any personnel from Balad.”
“The safety and security of all Air Force personnel and those that provide services to the U.S. Air Force are constantly evaluated, and should there be increased threats to our people, the U.S. Air Force will put measures in place to provide the protections required,” he said.
Like neighboring Iran, Iraq is a Shiite-majority country, and has been trying to maintain a fine line between allies Tehran and Washington. There have been concerns that Baghdad could once again get caught in the middle, just as it is on the path to recovery.
Iraq hosts more than 5,000 U.S. troops, and is home to powerful Iranian-backed militias, some of whom want those U.S. forces to leave.
Як розповіла синоптик Наталка Діденко, «натяк на послаблення спеки» очікується у вівторок, 25 червня, а наступного дня температура почне спадати.
«Дощ з грозою у Києві можливий у неділю пізно ввечері і в понеділок», – зазначила синоптик.
У неділю, 23 червня, в Україні переважно без опадів. Дощі очікуються у західних областях, місцями можливі грози. Вночі 18-21 градус тепла, на заході прохолодніше – 14-17 градусів.
Вдень у західних областях також буде прохолодніше – 25-27 градусів тепла. В інших областях очікується 31-34 градуси.
В Києві завтра без опадів, вночі – 18-20 градусів, вдень – 31-33.
«Він йшов з боку окупованої території Луганської області, при підході до української сторони КПВВ чоловікові стало погано, він був госпіталізований, але на жаль лікарі не змогли нічого зробити», – зазначив Лисянський.
Він додав, що за попередніми даними лікарі поставили діагноз обширний інсульт.
На лінії розмежування працюють 5 пунктів в’їзду-виїзду громадян – «Майорське», «Мар’їнка», «Новотроїцьке», «Гнутове», «Станиця Луганська». 8 квітня у місії ОБСЄ повідомили, що з грудня минулого року при перетині лінії розмежування померли 18 людей, здебільшого люди літнього віку. Причиною смерті в більшості випадків стали проблеми з серцем.
WASHINGTON — Iran warned Saturday that it would react sharply to any perceived aggression against it.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told the semi-official Tasnim news agency that Iran would not allow any of its borders to be violated. He said “Iran will firmly confront any aggression or threat by America.”
Britain’s Middle East minister travels to Tehran Sunday for talks with Iranian officials. Britain’s Foreign Office said Andrew Murrison will call for “urgent de-escalation in the region.” Murrison will also discuss Iran’s threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal that the United States pulled out of last year.
Friday U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the United States was “cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it,” Trump tweeted, saying the action would have been disproportionate.
“I am in no hurry,” Trump added.
President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran – Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH! Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON. Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2019
The president also said that he authorized additional “biting” sanctions against Iran late Thursday night as part of his administration’s maximum pressure campaign to force Iran to restart negotiations over its nuclear program.
Hesameddin Ashena – an adviser to #Iran President @HassanRouhani – with a blunt message to the US on avoiding war w/#Tehran: if you don’t want war, ease the sanctions… pic.twitter.com/eBgXZnAbAG
— Jeff Seldin (@jseldin) June 21, 2019
“Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!” Trump tweeted.
The move appears to pull Washington and Tehran back from the brink of armed conflict that could engulf the Middle East. President Trump spoke Friday with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The two leaders discussed Saudi Arabia’s critical role in ensuring stability in the Middle East and in the global oil market,” said White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley. “They also discussed the threat posed by the Iranian regime’s escalatory behavior.”
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday, “We are in an extremely dangerous and sensitive situation with Iran. We must calibrate a response that de-escalates and advances American interests, and we must be clear as to what those interests are.” She added that any hostilities against Iran must first be approved by Congress.
Concern about a potential armed confrontation between the U.S. and Iran has been growing since U.S. officials recently blamed Tehran for mine attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, allegations Tehran denies, and Iran’s downing of an unmanned U.S. drone this week.
James Phillips, a senior researcher at the conservative Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said he believes the immediate risk of a U.S.-Iran conflict has passed. “It’s probably over as far as the incident goes with the shoot down of the drone. But, I think if there are further provocations, the president will respond in a strong and effective manner,” he said.
Phillips also said he does not expect Tehran to accept U.S. calls for negotiations while Trump continues a “maximum pressure campaign” of sanctions on Iran. “I doubt that Tehran will be serious until it sees who wins the next presidential election,” he said.
The U.S. announced this week it was authorizing another 1,000 troops — including a Patriot missile battery and additional manned and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft to bolster defenses at U.S. positions in Iraq and Syria.
Trump earlier said the unmanned surveillance drone that was shot down was flying over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz when it was hit by an Iranian missile, and said the incident was a “very bad mistake.”
Iran says the drone flew into its air space, a “blatant violation of International law.”
Iran’s letter to
The U.S. Defense Department has also released images to bolster its assertion the drone did not enter Iranian airspace. But a news report said the department erroneously labeled the drone’s fight path the location where it was shot down. An image apparently showing the airborne drone exploding provided little context.
“It’s a really dangerous game and if I was flying in that region – which I have before – I’d be a little more nervous,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a U.S. Air Force Veteran who flew missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, told reporters Friday.
Kinzinger said Iran has moved the situation “this time – and multiple times prior – into the kinetic military realm. This is not the president doing it. I think a military response, even a small one is appropriate but if there’s a strong economic cost then I think that could work, too.”
But in recent days, Democrats have expressed concern Trump has not adequately consulted with the U.S. Congress on a military response they say could have grave consequences.
“I think every president would probably say initial, retaliatory strikes are ok but let’s de-escalate this, let’s look for a diplomatic solution,” Rep. Ami Bera, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told VOA. “He (Trump) may be walking right into the hands of what the Revolutionary Guards want.”
Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0700 GMT) in the election to replace President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, 62, who since seizing power in a 2008 coup has positioned himself as an ally of the West in the fight against Islamist militants.
Located on the northwest African coast and bordered to the east by the Sahara Desert, the country gained independence from colonial power France in 1960.
Abdel Aziz is stepping aside after serving the maximum two five-year elected terms and has thrown his support behind Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, 62, a former general and defense minister.
Abdel Aziz could however maintain significant influence behind the scenes. He said on Thursday that he had not ruled out running again in five years when his term limits would reset.
Gilles Yabi, the founder of West African think tank WATHI, said Ghazouani was favored to win the election and would likely continue to rule in Abdel Aziz’s mould, but that he could still surprise.
“Ghazouani is someone who is very discreet. It could well happen that the change is not merely cosmetic,” Yabi said.
Five other candidates are on the ballot. Former prime minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, who is backed by Mauritania’s biggest Islamist party, has drawn large crowds on the campaign trail and is considered Ghazouani’s main rival.
Ghazouani has campaigned on economic and security progress under Abdel Aziz. The economy is growing and will receive a boost when a large offshore gas field starts producing early next decade.
Tourists are also starting to return for desert tours after years of staying away following a series of kidnappings in 2009.
In recent years, Mauritania has been spared attacks by jihadist militants linked to al Qaida and Islamic State that have devastated other countries in West Africa’s Sahel region, including neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.
Al Qaida documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan hideout in 2011 indicated the group’s leaders had discussed a possible peace deal the previous year with Mauritania’s government that would involve prisoner releases and payments.
Mauritania’s government denied that any such deal existed and has credited its success preventing Islamist attacks to intelligence work and rehabilitation of imprisoned jihadists.
The opposition candidates, who include a prominent campaigner against slavery in the country, have tried to tap into dissatisfaction among young people over stagnating salaries and poor health care.
If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the election will go to a second round next month.
На зупинці в селищі Беньківці перебували п’ятеро людей. Загиблі – мешканці Львівської області 1954, 1963 та 1985 року народження. Вони відвідували родичів. Постраждали дві місцеві мешканки.
«Одна із потерпілих стояла трохи далі від інших осіб і пояснила, що від миттєвого удару її відкинуло на землю, а коли піднялася, то чоловіки ознак життя не подавали», – мовиться у повідомленні.