International Whispers- Mexican President cancels trip to U.S over Trump’s wall claims

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has cancelled a planned visit to the U.S after American President Donald Trump signed an executive order to start construction of a wall along the length of the US border with Mexico.

The wall which was a key election promise in now President Trump’s election campaign has caused much consternation in the international community, especially after Mr Trump affirmed his desire to make Mexico pay for all or part of its construction.

In a video address on Wednesday night Peña Nieto told Mexico “I have said time and time again, Mexico will not pay for any wall.” amidst pressure from his own government to cancel the meeting with President Trump.

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Mexican President Nieto came under significant government pressure 

President Nieto later confirmed on Twitter that he had cancelled Thursday’s meeting with President Trump adding that “Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the US to achieve agreements which benefit both nations”

Mr Trump who was making a speech to republican politicians in Philadelphia, claimed that the cancellation was mutual saying “The president of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting next week” but later reiterating his tough negotiating position:

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Trump has signed an executive order to start construction of a wall along the US -Mexico border

“Unless Mexico is going to treat us fairly and with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless, we have to go a different route.”

Many Mexicans have welcomed President Peña Nieto’s decision to not visit the US, particularly after the perceived inaction by Mexico that followed Mr Trump’s visit last August.

With falling popularity ratings in Mexico, the President’s action will undoubtedly win him many fans, both domestically and in the wider international community.

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The new “Special Relationship”?

President Trump is due to meet with UK Prime Minister Theresa May tomorrow to discuss the “Special” relationship and potential trade deals with the UK post Brexit.

The Prime Minister said that Mr Trump had confirmed in conversations that “There is a clear commitment on both sides not just to maintain the special relationship, but to build on the special relationship.”

With President Trump so publicly snubbed, the Prime Minister might be keen to placate the President, but with growing questions on his views on torture and women it may be a tough conversation.

Responding to Labour’s calls to adopt a bullish position in dealing with Mr Trump she said “We have a very clear view: we condemn the use of torture, and my view on that won’t change, whether I’m talking to you, or talking to President Trump.”

But with post Brexit trade deals forming a vital part of this countries long term economic future, it may be a case of losing the battle to win the war.

 

International Whispers- Donald Trump becomes 45th president of the USA

Donald J Trump has just been sworn in as the 45th President of the United States at an inauguration ceremony on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC.

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President Trump takes the oath of office, flanked by his wife Melania

Amidst heightened security and reports of earlier protests, Mr Trump and Mike Pence, the vice president took their oaths of office administered by US chief Justice John Roberts.

In a speech that was full of the bluster of Trump the candidate, the new President called January 20th “the day the people became the rulers once again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now.”

“We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people,” Trump told the crowds as rain fell over the capital. “Together we will determine the course of America and all of the world for many many years to come.”

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One in One out: President Trump and his wife Melania pictured with Barack and Michelle Obama

The new president said: “Today we are not merely transferring power from one party to another … but we are transferring power from Washington DC and giving it back to you, the people.”

Speaking directly to his supporters, President Trump said “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First, America First,” and described American economic policy in the future as being “two simple rules”: “buy American and hire American.”

Preparations are finalized at US Capitol for Trump inauguration in Washington DC

Inauguration Day, January 20th 2017

Flanked by former Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton and Carter, Mr Trump took a moment to speak about unity, saying “Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots,” he said. “Whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky … and they are infused with the same breath of life by the almighty creator.”

So, a man with no previous political experience is now America’s 45th President. It will be an interesting four years in American politics and indeed the politics of the world.

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Its mine, my own, my precious……..

International Whispers: Trump ‘keen’ to sign quick trade deal with UK after Brexit

President-elect Donald Trump has promised that the U.S. will sign a quick trade deal with the UK after the Brexit negotiations are concluded.

In an interview with former leave campaigner and cabinet minister Michael Gove for the Times newspaper, Mr Trump said that the UK was “so smart for getting out”. He went on to say  “We’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides.”

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President Elect Trump met with MP Michael Gove at Trump Tower in New York

 

Mr Trump’s words were in sharp contrast to outgoing President Barack Obama’s remarks during the EU referendum campaign, where he famously said that “the UK would be at the back of the queue” for any potential trade deal should it leave the EU.

The President-elect, who will be inaugurated on Friday in Washington, went on to criticise Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s stance on immigration calling it “obsolete”.

Mr Trump later said “I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from,”

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Mr Trump said that the UK was ‘doing great’ in the wake of Brexit.

Later in the interview with Mr Gove, he turned his comments to NATO and called for more member states to commit to the target of spending the 2% of their respective national incomes on defence, a spending target that the UK is meeting and remains one of the few nations to do so.

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Defence Spending as a % of GDP- Source: NATO

With his inauguration looming, UK prime minister Theresa May will be keen to ensure that Mr Trump delivers on his promise to sign a trade deal with the UK, as this would be a boost to the economy and future success post Brexit.

Would NATO be more effective if it were disbanded?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, to use its full title was formed by the victorious western powers in response to the politically uncertain world of post war Europe. Its objective was simple, the preservation of the western democratic way of life in a organisation based on mutual defence.

Over the years NATO has grown exponentially and after the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1991 and it currently comprises 28 member states. With the notable exception of one of the biggest European powers: Russia.

The Russian government has never been included in NATO and with the political upheaval in Ukraine; the implication is that it never will.

Russian mistrust of the western powers can be traced as far back as the Second World War, when the Soviet Union signed a pact with Nazi Germany. This pact resulted in betrayal, invasion and the death of some 20 million of its citizens, so naturally they are mistrustful.

But what if NATO were disbanded and a new Pan-European organisation were created in its place?

The Russian mistrust of the west, though not completely dispelled would be moved to the background in the spirit of co-operation.

It’s military and industrial might would be at the disposal of the west rather than set against it. Russian gas and energy supplies would not be cut off from the west and inversely, the Russian economy would improve from its extremely tenuous current position.

To the non-NATO members, Russia would be seen as willing to change and this would be as much a perceptual victory as well as a diplomatic one. Its neighbours would be more willing to engage with it and conflicts like the South Ossetian war and the present crisis in Ukraine could be avoided.

The new international treaty organisation would be able to meet threats more readily and a stronger organisation would strike fear into the hearts of any terrorist or wrong doer.

There are those who would say that the United Nations achieves this and is an inclusive organisation. To them I would say one word, Iraq. The ineffectiveness of resolution 1441 and the coalitions blatant ignoring of the diplomatic rules showed what the United Nations is: A paper tiger, all roar and no substance. The more the nations of the world ignore it, the more it will diminish in its power.

But in any positive argument, there is always the other side of the coin. Russian membership of a NATO style organisation would make it more of an obvious target for terrorists and although the Russian people have experience of dealing with terrorists via the Chechens, their overall preparedness for a large scale terrorist attack can be called into question.

And what of the chief architect of the new imperialist Russia: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin?

Putin is a product of the cold war Russia, steeped in cloak and dagger tactics and clandestine activities. While post cold war America has influenced the world in a more obvious way, the Russia of Vladimir Putin uses its power in a more subtle way behind the scenes. The poisoning of the political activist Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 is a prominent example of this.

A Russia included in a large scale mutual defence and trade organisation would lead to a new breed of oligarchs, thriving in the new co-operative world. Restrictions both economic and social may be lifted, shining a light on the shortcomings of the current Russian system. Political change would come from the inside, motivated by the new oligarchs and those who would likely return from exile.

The clandestine tactics would have to go and more than likely so would Mr Putin.

However an international organisation that adopted both the subtle tactics of Russia and the more obvious manipulation of America would be a dangerous and far more subversive entity.

Not to end on air of pessimism, I choose to look at the positives.

There is a ceasefire in Ukraine, talk of arming the moderates in Syria and the mending of fences between the US and Iran, two long held enemies. There is every reason to think that inclusion of Russia in NATO will come about organically in its own time, but only time will tell.

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© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.