DANANG, Vietnam (AP) — President Donald Trump stood before a summit of Asian leaders keen on regional trade pacts and delivered a roaring “America first” message, denouncing China for unfair trade practices just a day after he had heaped praise on President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore,” Trump told CEOs on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. “I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”
The President, who pulled the United States out of the Pacific Rim trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, said the U.S. would no longer join “large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible.”
Instead, he said, the U.S. will pursue one-on-one trade deals with other nations that pledge fair and reciprocal trade.
As for China, Trump said he’d spoken “openly and directly” with Xi about the nation’s abusive trade practices and “the enormous trade deficits they have produces with the United States.”
It was a stark change in tone from the day before, when Trump was Xi’s guest of honor during a state visit in Beijing. There, Trump opted for flattering Xi and blaming past U.S. presidents for the trade deficit.
BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese officials insisted on the return home of Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Saudi Arabia and the leader of the militant group Hezbollah said the Saudis had “declared war” on Lebanon by holding Hariri against his will.
The U.S. added its voice to those urging that Hariri be allowed to return to Lebanon. A political crisis has gripped the country and shattered the relative peace maintained by its coalition government ever since his stunning announcement November 4th from the Saudi capital that he was resigning.
The announcement from the Saudi-aligned Hariri jolted Lebanon and thrust it back into the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The move and exceptionally strong statements by the Saudis against Iran that followed have deepened the mystery about Hariri’s fate and led to rumors that he is being held in the kingdom against his will, despite his denials.
For the past year, Hariri has headed a coalition government that included members of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia. He cited meddling in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region by Iran and Hezbollah in his decision to step down, adding that Iran’s arm into the region will be “cut off.”
Saudi Arabia appears to want to see Lebanon headed by someone who would form a government without Hezbollah, perhaps believing Hariri has become too lenient toward the group.
GENEVA (AP) — Sri Lanka’s government faced increasing pressure to answer for alleged human rights violations following an Associated Press investigation that found more than 50 men who said they were raped, branded or tortured as recently as this year.
The men’s anguished descriptions of their abuses come nearly a decade after Sri Lanka’s civil war ended and days ahead of a review of the Indian Ocean nation by the U.N.’s top human rights body.
Doctors, psychologists, lawmakers and rights groups have appealed to the United Nations to investigate the new allegations published by The Associated Press. The AP reviewed 32 medical and psychological evaluations and interviewed 20 men who said they were accused of trying to revive a rebel group on the losing side of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war. All the men are members of the country’s Tamil ethnic minority.
Although combat ended in 2009, they say the torture and abuse occurred from early 2016 to as recently as July of this year.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the top ranking Democrat on the subcommittee that oversees U.S. foreign aid, said the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has made aid to the government conditional on its compliance with international standards for arrest and detention, as well as accountability for war crimes.
Sri Lanka has received $76 million in U.S. foreign assistance since 2015.
“These accounts of torture are horrific and contradict the Sri Lankan government’s professed commitment to reconciliation and justice,” Leahy said, adding, “I will be looking for convincing evidence that torture has ended and those responsible are being punished.”