President Trump called U.S. allies “delinquent” on military spending and attacked Germany as “captive” to Russia. We examine the source of his frustration.
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi has renewed criticism of Saudi Arabia more broadly, including the kingdom’s role in the war in Yemen. It’s a war that has created what has been called the worst humanitarian crisis in the world — and one that the United States has backed from the beginning.
A nice little overview of some of the history behind what’s going on in several portions of the Middle East.
President Trump abruptly canceled on Thursday the highly anticipated summit meeting with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, that was scheduled to take place on June 12. In a letter to Mr. Kim announcing his decision, Mr. Trump wrote, “The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace.”
On today’s episode:
• Mark Landler, who covers the White House for The New York Times.
• Mr. Trump announced his decision to call off the summit meeting in a strikingly personal letter that contained mixed messages, both raising the possibility of military action against the North and leaving the door open for a future diplomatic encounter between the two men.
• The announcement came hours after North Korea appeared to destroy its only known nuclear test site in a spectacle that was attended by foreign journalists and was meant to be a sign of good faith ahead of the meeting with Mr. Trump.
• North Korea responded in a carefully worded statement that it remained “willing to sit down with the United States any time, in any format, to resolve the problems.”
John R. Bolton, President Trump’s new national security adviser, has said that negotiations with North Korea should follow “the Libya model.” Now, North Korea is threatening to call off the planned summit meeting with Mr. Trump. What risks does the Libya model hold for Kim Jong-un?
On today’s episode:
• Mark Landler, a White House correspondent for The New York Times.
• In a statement released on Wednesday, North Korea’s vice foreign minister threatened to cancel scheduled talks with President Trump if the United States continues to insist on complete nuclear abandonment.
• The statement repeatedly cites the example of Libya, whose former leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, agreed in 2003 to forfeit the country’s nuclear capability in the hope of economic integration with the West. Colonel Qaddafi was captured and killed by rebel forces after the United States and its allies launched airstrikes in Libya in 2011.
• According to administration and foreign officials, President Trump has been seeking advice from his aides and allies, including from President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, about whether he should proceed with the talks with Kim Jong-un at the risk of political embarrassment.
With Alivia Clark, David Kaye, Thomas Kopache, John Oliver. 'Iran Deal' is the worst deal of all time in Donald Trump's Eyes. But John Oliver Explains Why It Is Better Than No Deal. Because this deal strictly forbade Iran to develop any sort of nuclear weapons. And all of their declared nuclear sites have close monitoring, as well as any suspected site could be monitored within 24 days of the request. The sad part is, top advisers of Trump administration are also against the deal. That is why John prepared a new ad with catheter cowboy to explain the matter to Trump and scheduled it on his favorite Sean Hannity's show.
This would be funny if it weren’t so painfully true. The idea of placing ads on Hannity is pretty intriguing though.
Mr. Tillerson’s push for nuclear talks put him at odds with his boss. He has been replaced as secretary of state just as President Trump prepares to meet Kim Jong-un.
Venezuela placed the opposition leader Leopoldo López under house arrest, hoping to keep him quiet. But he continues to speak out. Here’s Part 2 of his story.
Trump blasted Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, said U.S. officials.
It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.
Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.
At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladimir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”
Trump’s behavior suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organizations in speeches and on Twitter.
“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.
Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admission of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”
Trump returned to the topic late Wednesday night, writing in a message on Twitter: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”
U.S. officials said that Trump has behaved similarly in conversations with leaders of other countries, including Mexico. But his treatment of Turnbull was particularly striking because of the tight bond between the United States and Australia — countries that share intelligence, support one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The characterizations provide insight into Trump’s temperament and approach to the diplomatic requirements of his job as the nation’s chief executive, a role in which he continues to employ both the uncompromising negotiating tactics he honed as a real estate developer and the bombastic style he exhibited as a reality television personality.
The depictions of Trump’s calls are also at odds with sanitized White House accounts. The official readout of his conversation with Turnbull, for example, said that the two had “emphasized the enduring strength and closeness of the U.S.-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.”
A White House spokesman declined to comment. A senior administration official acknowledged that the conversation with Turnbull had been hostile and charged, but emphasized that most of Trump’s calls with foreign leaders — including the heads of Japan, Germany, France and Russia — have been productive and pleasant.
Trump also vented anger and touted his political accomplishments in a tense conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, officials said. The two have sparred for months over Trump’s vow to force Mexico to pay for construction of a border wall between the two countries, a conflict that prompted Peña Nieto to cancel a planned meeting with Trump.
Even in conversations marred by hostile exchanges, Trump manages to work in references to his election accomplishments. U.S. officials said that he used his calls with Turnbull and Peña Nieto to mention his election win or the size of the crowd at his inauguration.
One official said that it may be Trump’s way of “speaking about the mandate he has and why he has the backing for decisions he makes.” But Trump is also notoriously thin-skinned and has used platforms including social-media accounts, meetings with lawmakers and even a speech at CIA headquarters to depict his victory as an achievement of historic proportions, rather than a narrow outcome in which his opponent, Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote.
The friction with Turnbull reflected Trump’s anger over being bound by an agreement reached by the Obama administration to accept refugees from Australian detention sites even while Trump was issuing an executive order suspending such arrivals from elsewhere in the world.
The issue centers on a population of about 2,500 people who sought asylum in Australia but were diverted to facilities off that country’s coast at Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Deplorable conditions at those sites prompted intervention from the United Nations and a pledge from the United States to accept about half of those refugees, provided they passed U.S. security screening.
Many of the refugees came from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, countries listed in Trump’s order temporarily barring their citizens from entry to the United States. A special provision in the Trump order allows for exceptions to honor “a preexisting international agreement,” a line that was inserted to cover the Australia deal.
But U.S. officials said that Trump continued to fume about the arrangement even after signing the order in a ceremony at the Pentagon.
“I don’t want these people,” Trump said. He repeatedly misstated the number of refugees called for in the agreement as 2,000 rather than 1,250, and told Turnbull that it was “my intention” to honor the agreement, a phrase designed to leave the U.S. president wiggle room to back out of the deal in the future, according to a senior U.S. official.
Before Trump tweeted about the agreement Wednesday night, the U.S. Embassy in Canberra had assured Australian reporters that the new administration intended to take the refugees.
“President Trump’s decision to honour the refugee agreement has not changed,” an embassy spokesman had told the reporters, according to an official in the Sydney consulate. “This was just reconfirmed to the State Department from the White House and on to this embassy at 1315 Canberra time.”
The time the embassy said it was informed the deal was going ahead was 9:15 p.m. in Washington, one hour and 40 minutes before Trump suggested in a tweet that it might not go ahead.
During the phone conversation Saturday, Turnbull told Trump that to honor the agreement, the United States would not have to accept all of the refugees but only to allow each through the normal vetting procedures. At that, Trump vowed to subject each refugee to “extreme vetting,” the senior U.S. official said.
Trump was also skeptical because he did not see a specific advantage the United States would gain by honoring the deal, officials said.
Trump’s position appears to reflect the transactional view he takes of relationships, even when it comes to diplomatic ties with long-standing allies. Australian troops have fought alongside U.S. forces for decades, and the country maintains close cooperation with Washington on trade and economic issues.
Australia is seen as such a trusted ally that it is one of only four countries that the United States includes in the “Five Eyes” arrangement for cooperation on espionage matters. Members share extensively what their intelligence services gather and generally refrain from spying on one another.
There also is a significant amount of tourism between the two countries.
Trump made the call to Turnbull about 5 p.m. Saturday from his desk in the Oval Office, where he was joined by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, national security adviser Michael Flynn and White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
At one point, Turnbull suggested that the two leaders move on from their impasse over refugees to discuss the conflict in Syria and other pressing foreign issues. But Trump demurred and ended the call, making it far shorter than his conversations with Shinzo Abe of Japan, Angela Merkel of Germany, François Hollande of France or Putin.
“These conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately,” Turnbull said at a news conference Thursday in Australia. “If you see reports of them, I’m not going to add to them.”
A. Odysseus Patrick in Sydney, contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated and a reference to an AP report on the details of a phone conversation between President Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto removed because they could not be independently confirmed.
The new policy eliminates a special parole period that allows them entry to wait for U.S. residence and ends the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy.
The Obama administration, in one of its final foreign policy initiatives, on Thursday ended the special status accorded migrants fleeing Cuba who, upon reaching this country, were automatically allowed to stay.
Cubans are still covered by the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which grants them permanent residency — a green card — after they have been here for one year. Until now, they were given temporary “parole” status while waiting for that year to pass. That will no longer be granted, making the act moot for most by denying them entry on arrival.
Effective immediately, President Obama said in a statement, “Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally . . . will be subject to removal,” treating them “the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”
More than a million Cubans have come to this country, many of them in vast exoduses by sea, since the island’s 1959 revolution. More than 250,000 have been granted residency under the Obama administration under the law, which can only be repealed by Congress.
The new rule on parole applies to Cubans attempting to enter the United States without visas by sea or by land through Mexico or Canada.
It ends the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, adopted by the Clinton administration in 1996 at a time when illegal seaborne migrants were flooding across the Florida Straits. That policy differentiated between those reaching U.S. soil — who were allowed to stay — and those intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard, who were returned to Cuba or sent to third countries.
The policy was agreed upon with the Cuban government, which issued a statement calling it “an important step in the advance of bilateral relations” that will guarantee “regular, safe and orderly migration.” The government has long complained about the special status for Cubans, particularly the “wet-foot, dry foot” policy, which it said encouraged illegal travel in unseaworthy vessels, homemade rafts and inner tubes.
As part of the accord announced in both capitals, Cuba will allow any citizen who has been out of the country for up to four years to return. Previously, anyone who had been gone for more than two years was legally said to have “emigrated.” The Cuban statement said efforts to “modernize” immigration policies would continue.
The White House described the changes as a logical extension of the normalization of relations with Cuba that began in December 2014, when Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced they would end more than a half-century of estrangement. Since then, U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations have been reestablished, and Obama has used his regulatory authorities to ease long-standing restrictions on commerce and trade, as well as travel by U.S. citizens to the island, under the continuing U.S. embargo.
The latest change comes as President-elect Donald Trump has indicated his unhappiness with increased Cuba ties and has threatened to reverse normalization. “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal,” Trump tweeted in late November, after the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, the current president’s brother.
If he chose to do so after taking office, Trump could order the Department of Homeland Security to reinstitute special treatment for Cuban migrants.
Lawmakers long opposed to the new relationship with Cuba expressed displeasure at the new policy. “Today’s announcement will only serve to tighten the noose the Castro regime continues to have around the neck of its own people,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in a statement.
“Congress was not consulted prior to this abrupt policy announcement with just nine days left in the administration,” Menendez said. “The Obama administration seeks to pursue engagement with the Castro regime at the cost of ignoring the present state of torture and oppression, and its systematic curtailment of freedom.”
Benjamin Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said that plans for the change were kept quiet in large part to avoid a new flood of Cubans trying to enter — many of them trying to beat a deadline they feared was the inevitable next step in U.S.-Cuba rapprochment under the current administration.
The total number of Cubans admitted after reaching here without visas by land or sea was 4,890 in 2013, according to Customs and Border Protection. In 2016, the number was 53,416.
According to the Coast Guard, 1,885 people traveling by sea have either arrived here or been intercepted — and sent back — in fiscal 2017, which began Oct. 1.
Thousands of others have joined a growing stream of Central Americans who have made the arduous journey through Mexico, often after paying hefty sums to smugglers, to reach the U.S. border. While Cubans have been allowed to cross, others, largely from Guatemala and El Salvador, have been turned back.
“The aim here is to treat Cuban migrants in a manner consistent to migrants who come here from other countries . . . equalizing our immigration policies . . . as part of the overall normalization process with Cuba,” said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. “Our approach to Cubans arriving [at the border] tomorrow will be the same as those arriving from other countries.”
Rhodes said the change was also justified because, while many Cubans in the past left the island “for political purposes . . . I think increasingly over time the balance has shifted to those leaving for more traditional reasons,” such as “economic opportunity.”
“That is not to say there are not still people who have political cause to leave Cuba,” he said. As with other countries, Rhodes said, “political asylum continues to be an option.” Adjudication of asylum claims of political or other persecution normally takes several years, allowing time to be granted a green card under the Cuban Adjustment Act before there is even a ruling on the claim.
The Cuban government continues to arrest dissidents and restrict civil liberties, including political and press freedoms. At the same time, however, it has slowly loosened its grip on the economy — allowing the growth of a private sector — and liberalized some other restrictions.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who has long advocated rapprochement with Cuba, said in a statement that “this is a welcome step in reforming an illogical and discriminatory policy that contrasted starkly with the treatment of deserving refugees from other countries. Refugees from all countries should be treated the same way, and now they will be. That’s the American way.”
Engage Cuba, a coalition of private U.S. companies and organizations working to end the trade embargo still in place against Cuba, called it “a logical, responsible, and important step towards further normalizing relations with Cuba.”
The new agreement also ends the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, adopted under the George W. Bush administration, which targeted Cuba’s policy of sending medical professionals abroad as a form of humanitarian aid by encouraging them to defect. The program allowed U.S. embassies abroad to accept them for U.S. migration.
A U.S. lottery that gives green cards to 20,000 Cubans on the island each year remains in place, Rhodes said.
Trump is also interested in opening a hotel there.