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Chief Bakes

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Chief Bakes

US-Iran crisis: Trump lashes out at 'ignorant and insulting' statement

  • 25 June 2019
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US President Donald J. Trump holds up a copy of an executive order in the Oval Office Image copyright EPA
Image caption Donald Trump signed an executive order for new sanctions against Iran on Monday

Donald Trump has lashed out at the "ignorant and insulting statement" released by Iran after the US president announced fresh sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation.

The tweets came after Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said the move proved the White House was "mentally retarded".

Mr Trump said it showed Iran's leaders "do not understand reality".

He unveiled the sanctions on Monday, saying they were a response to recent "aggressive behaviour" by Iran.

The sanctions target a number of individuals, notably Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who Mr Trump said was "ultimately responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime".

The US has alleged Ayatollah Khamenei has access to vast wealth which helps fund the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRCG). In a 2018 op-ed, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested it was as much as $95bn (£75bn) and was "used as a slush fund for the IRGC".

But Mr Rouhani questioned why the US would single out a man who he said only "owns a Hoseyniyyeh [prayer venue] and a simple house", calling the sanctions "outrageous and idiotic".

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Media captionIran's president says the US is lying about wanting dialogue

He also said it suggested the US is lying about wanting dialogue.

But Mr Trump said the only thing Iran understood "is strength and power, and the USA is by far the most powerful military force in the world".

"Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force," he added in a tweet. "In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration."

Who do the new sanctions target?

Some analysts said the sanctions were largely symbolic, although the US treasury department said the measures would lock up billions of dollars in assets.

Mr Trump said the measures would deny Ayatollah Khamenei, his office, and those closely affiliated with him access to key financial resources and support.

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Media captionPresident Trump: "The assets of Ayatollah Khamenei and his office will not be spared"

The treasury also said it was also imposing sanctions on eight senior commanders of the IRGC's navy, air force, and ground forces, including the head of an air force unit that the US said had ordered the shooting down of its drone last week.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif - who was the country's top negotiator on the nuclear deal - would be targeted later this week, it added.

How did tensions between the two countries escalate?

Tensions have increased steadily since May 2018, when Mr Trump abandoned the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and began reinstating sanctions to force Iran to renegotiate the accord.

Last month, Iran scaled back some its commitments under the deal, including on the amount of low enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile, after Mr Trump ended exemptions from US secondary sanctions for countries still buying Iranian oil.

Last week, Iranian forces shot down a US surveillance drone that they said had violated Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. The US insisted the drone was flying over international waters.

The US has also accused Iran of being behind two sets of explosions that have damaged six oil tankers in the region, through which a fifth of the world's oil passes each day. Iran has rejected the allegation.

Despite this, Mr Trump insisted he was willing to start negotiations on a new nuclear accord that would also see Iran agree to curb its ballistic missile programme and end what he calls its "malign" activities in the Middle East.

"If they don't want to, that's fine too. But we would love to be able to. And, frankly, they might as well do it soon," he said.

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Chief Bakes

Trump says he wants to 'shake hands' with North Korea's Kim at DMZ

  • 29 June 2019
Donald Trump at the G20 summit Image copyright Reuters

US President Donald Trump has spontaneously invited North Korea leader Kim Jong-un to meet him at the fortified frontier that divides North and South Korea.

Mr Trump is due to visit South Korea after the G20 summit in Japan.

He arrives in Seoul on Saturday for a two-day trip aimed at rescuing foundering denuclearisation talks with North Korea.

In a tweet, Mr Trump unexpectedly mooted a meeting with Mr Kim.

Speaking at the G20 summit in Osaka, Mr Trump clarified his tweet, telling reporters he decided on Saturday morning to "put out a feeler" to Mr Kim.

"If he's there, we'll see each other for two minutes and that's fine," he said in comments to reporters at the start of a working breakfast with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

It remains unclear whether officials with Mr Trump were briefed in advance about his overture to the North Korean leader.

Mr Trump attempted to make a surprise visit to the demilitarised zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas in November 2017, but was forced to abandon the plans due to bad weather.

Relations between North Korea and the US have soured since Mr Trump and Mr Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam in February.

Their second summit ended without agreement on North Korea's progress towards denuclearisation.

The US has insisted North Korea give up its nuclear programme while Pyongyang has demanded sanctions relief.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption US President Donald Trump meeting Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit

However in recent months Mr Trump has spoken warmly about Mr Kim.

Last week, he sent the North Korean leader a personal letter, whose content Mr Kim praised as "excellent".

Earlier this month he told reporters that North Korea under Mr Kim's leadership had "tremendous potential".

And in May during a visit to Japan Mr Trump described Mr Kim as a "very smart guy" and said he expected "a lot of good things" to come out of North Korea.

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Chief Bakes

G20 summit: Trump and Xi agree to restart US-China trade talks

  • 29 June 2019
Trump and Xi at G20 in Osaka Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Trump had threatened to impose $300bn in additional tariffs on Chinese imports

The United States and China have agreed to resume trade negotiations, easing a protracted row that has fuelled a global economic slowdown.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached the agreement on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan.

Mr Trump said the talks had been "excellent".

He had threatened to impose an additional $300bn (£236bn) in tariffs on Chinese imports.

US and China - the world's two largest economies - have been fighting a damaging trade war over the past year.

Mr Trump accused China of stealing intellectual property and forcing US firms to share trade secrets in order to do business in China.

China, in turn, said the US's demands for business reform were unreasonable.

The feud escalated in the months leading up to the summit, after talks between the two countries collapsed in May.

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Media captionWho really pays in a tariff war?

Speaking after his meeting with Mr Xi at the summit, the US president said negotiations were "back on track".

"We had a very good meeting with President Xi of China, excellent, I would say excellent, as good as it was going to be," Mr Trump told reporters. "We discussed a lot of things and we're right back on track and we'll see what happens."

In a statement, China's foreign ministry said the US had agreed not to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports, although the US has not confirmed this.

It added that negotiators from both sides would discuss the specific details, but did not elaborate.

China's official state news agency Xinhua also quoted Mr Xi as saying: "China and the US have highly integrated interests and extensive co-operation areas and they should not fall into so-called traps of conflict and confrontation."

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Media captionTrade war squeezes California's wine country

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Trump ‘trying to work out’ historic Kim meeting at DMZ

  • 30 June 2019
Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in meet in South Korea Image copyright EPA
Image caption US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have met for talks

President Trump says he is still hoping to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un when he visits the fortified strip dividing the two Koreas shortly.

He told a banquet in South Korea he was still "trying to work out" a meeting at the demilitarised zone (DMZ).

He invited Mr Kim in an apparently spontaneous tweet from the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday.

North Korea described the offer as interesting, but has not said whether Mr Kim will take it up.

Mr Trump is in South Korea to discuss the flagging North Korea denuclearisation talks and trade.

A meeting with Mr Kim would be a symbolic encounter, typifying Mr Trump's unusual style of diplomacy.

So far, two summits - in Singapore and Vietnam - have failed to bridge differences over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

A third meeting between the pair at the DMZ, commentators say, would have long-lasting resonance but minimal impact on the progress of denuclearisation talks.

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Media captionDonald Trump and Kim Jong-un: From enemies to frenemies

Mr Trump has not confirmed Mr Kim will be there, only saying he expects a "really interesting" visit to the DMZ.

North Korea described the offer as a "very interesting suggestion", but stressed it had not received an official request.

Mr Trump is expected to arrive at the DMZ at 2.30pm local time (06.30 GMT), according to the White House.

What did Mr Trump say?

At a banquet with South Korean business leaders, Mr Trump reiterated his wish to "say hello" to Mr Kim at the DMZ, saying both sides were "trying to work it out" but it was "not so easy".

"I understand that they want to meet," he said. "It will be very short but that's OK. A handshake means a lot," he added.

Earlier on Sunday, he said he would have "no problem" setting foot in North Korean territory to meet Mr Kim.

He would be the first US president to cross the DMZ, a band 2.5 miles (4 km) wide and 150 miles (241 km) long which has divided the peninsula since the Korean War ended in 1953.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption South Korean soldier stands guard at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the DMZ

None of his predecessors managed it, including Bill Clinton, who once described the DMZ as the "scariest place on Earth".

It was Mr Trump's seemingly off-the-cuff tweet that built anticipation of a possible third face-to-face encounter between the pair.

"If Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!," Mr Trump tweeted from Osaka.

How are North Korea-US relations?

They have soured somewhat since Mr Trump and Mr Kim met in Hanoi, Vietnam. The summit - their second after Singapore in June 2018 - ended abruptly without agreement on North Korea's progress towards denuclearisation.

Mr Trump has repeatedly insisted that North Korea must dismantle its nuclear arsenal before economic sanctions can be lifted.

Since the Hanoi summit, North Korea has risked incurring the wrath of the Trump administration by testing several short-range missiles.

But Mr Trump, who once threatened North Korea with "fire and fury", has struck a more conciliatory tone recently, describing Mr Kim as a "very smart guy" and that he expected "a lot of good things" to come out of North Korea.

Last week, Mr Trump - who this month said North Korea under Mr Kim's leadership had "tremendous potential" - sent the North Korean leader a personal letter whose content Mr Kim praised as "excellent".

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Chief Bakes
  • 1 August 2019
US President Donald Trump Image copyright Getty Images

US President Donald Trump has announced fresh tariffs of 10% on another $300bn of Chinese products from 1 September.

The move is the latest salvo in an escalating trade war between the two countries.

It came after the latest round of bilateral talks showed little sign of a breakthrough.

Investors reacted to the news with dismay. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones share index fell sharply, tumbling about 1%.

Mr Trump tweeted that the tariffs applied to "the remaining 300 Billion Dollars of goods and products coming from China into our Country".

He also criticised China for not honouring promises to buy more US agricultural products and attacked Chinese President Xi Jinping for failing to do more to stem sales of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

The new levy is likely to affect a wide range of goods, from smartphones to children's clothing.

The latest round of tariffs comes amid mounting concern that Mr Trump's strategy is proving counter-productive and harming the US more than China.

On Thursday, Mr Trump's former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said in a BBC interview that the tariff battle was having a "dramatic impact" on US manufacturing and capital investment.

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Media captionAt the end of June, Mr Trump said the US wasn't about to add any new tariffs on Chinese goods

The resulting tensions have also influenced the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, which cut interest rates on Wednesday for the first time in a decade.

Fed chair Jerome Powell said it was not the Fed's job to criticise US trade policy, but added that trade tensions had "nearly boiled over" during May and June.

US and Chinese negotiators ended their latest two-day meeting in Shanghai on Wednesday with little sign of progress, although both countries described the talks as constructive.

Another round of negotiations has been scheduled for September.

Mr Trump's latest move brought the US-China trade war to the fore again, overshadowing news that a two-year deal to raise the US budget had cleared its final hurdle in Congress.

The deal sets government spending at $1.37 trillion (£1.12tn) for the next financial year, beginning in October.

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Chief Bakes
  • 12 August 2019
Woman at food bank choosing produce, Los Angeles (24 July 2019) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Legal immigrants who use food stamps face having their visa extension applications turned down

US President Donald Trump's administration is to make it more difficult for poorer legal migrants to extend their visas or gain permanent resident status (a green card).

The rule targets migrants who rely on public assistance, such as food aid or public housing, for more than a year.

Their applications will be rejected if the government decides they are likely to rely on public assistance in future.

The rule change would reinforce "ideals of self-sufficiency," officials said.

Immigrants who already hold a green card are unlikely to be affected.

The new regulation, known as a "public charge" rule, was published in the Federal Register on Monday and will take effect on 15 October.

Applicants who do not meet income standards or who are likely to rely on benefits such as Medicaid (government-run healthcare) in future will be blocked from entering the country.

Those already in the US would not be able to obtain green cards or US citizenship.

President Trump has made immigration a central theme of his administration. Last week, about 680 people were arrested in the state of Mississippi on suspicion of being undocumented migrants.

Pictures emerged of children crying after being separated from their parents. Officials said they took steps to ensure any children were properly cared for.

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Media captionMagdalena's plea for her detained father: "Let my dad be free like everybody else please."

The White House says two-thirds of immigrants entering the US "do so based on family ties rather than on skill or merit".

More than three-quarters (78%) of households headed by a non-citizen with no more than a secondary school education used at least one welfare programme, it said.

The number of would-be migrants apprehended at the US southern border with Mexico has been rising over the last two years.

However, the number of undocumented immigrants in the US is falling, according to recent analysis from the Pew Research centre.

In May, President Trump put forward proposals for a new skills-based immigration system, designed to favour younger, better educated, English-speaking workers.

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Chief Bakes
  • 13 August 2019
A man stands on a port in China Image copyright Getty Images

The US is delaying imposing tariffs on some imports from China until 15 December because of "health, safety, national security and other factors".

The products include mobile phones, laptops, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors, and certain footwear and clothing.

The surprise news from the United States Trade Representative office sparked a 5% jump in Apple shares.

Other items facing a 10% tariff will go ahead as planned on 1 September.

The USTR's announcement was released minutes after China's Ministry of Commerce said Vice Premier Liu He had conducted a phone call with US trade officials.

Technology investors welcomed news of the exemptions, pushing an index of chip stocks up 2.8%.

President Donald Trump said on 1 August he would impose a 10% tariff on $300bn of Chinese goods, blaming China for not following through on promises to buy more American agricultural products.

He also personally criticised Chinese President Xi Jinping for failing to do more to stem sales of the synthetic opioid fentanyl amid an opioid overdosing crisis in the US.

The USTR intends to publish additional details and lists of the specific product types affected by the announcement.

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