‘It Shouldn’t Be a Political Decision.’ Justin Trudeau Says Politics Won’t Factor Into Possible Huawei 5G Ban

Justin Trudeau Says Politics

Canada’s decision on whether to allow Huawei Technologies Co. access to its next-generation wireless network won’t be a political one, Justin Trudeau said.

The prime minister’s comments, made Wednesday at a year-end news conference in Ottawa, come amid heightened tensions with Beijing. Three Canadians have been detained in China since the arrest of a top Huawei executive in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request earlier this month.

The firm is racing to develop 5G technology, the fifth-generation mobile network that could be 100 times faster than existing standards. Australia and New Zealand have effectively banned Huawei from their grids, while the U.K and Germany are being pressed to follow suit over concerns the gear could be exploited by China’s spy agencies.

“It shouldn’t at all be a political decision made on how we engage, but a decision made by experts and a decision based on recommendations by our intelligence and security agencies,” he said.

Espionage concerns

U.S. lawmakers wrote to Trudeau in October urging him to block Huawei from 5G in Canada, and American officials ramped up pressure on Germany over the same issue this week. The company rejects espionage concerns outright, saying that excluding it from the new networks will snarl the advent of future wireless technologies worldwide.

Justin Trudeau Says Politics

Trudeau also sought to keep politics out of the cases of three Canadians captured this month by Chinese authorities. While the most recent detainee has yet to be identified, the prime minister said the case appears unrelated to the first two, who are facing national security investigations.

Michael Kovrig, a diplomat on leave from his post in Hong Kong, and Michael Spavor, entrepreneur who helped organize tourist trips to North Korea, were seized by Chinese state security officers nine days after Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was taken into custody on Canada’s Pacific coast. She is now out on bail, pending an extradition hearing.

“We are looking into the details on this most recent one that doesn’t seem to fit the pattern set by the previous two,” Trudeau said. He added that “political posturing or political statements aren’t necessarily going to contribute” to their successful resolution.

Read more

The U.S. Will Withdraw From Syria. No One’s Sure What Comes Next


President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. military to withdraw all 2,200 American ground troops from Syria within 30 days, marking a swift end to the four-year-long conflict against ISIS there. “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump said Wednesday on Twitter.

But pulling out of the war-ravaged country is a lot easier said than done. U.S. military commanders are now scampering to devise a strategy to execute the massive logistical challenge of pulling out troops, equipment and heavy weapons within the desired time frame, Administration officials told TIME. In addition, the mission needs to be carried out in a way that doesn’t completely abandon U.S. military allies nor imperil the hard-fought strategic gains made against ISIS since 2014, officials say.

The Pentagon is wrestling with questions on how the pullout can be handled, including whether the U.S. military should attempt to retake the thousands of weapons it has distributed among Syrian ground forces; whether the American military equipment that’s scattered over a half-dozen military bases in Syria can be pulled out within 30 days or should be destroyed in-place; and what the U.S. should do with the Kurdish fighters and a 79-nation international coalition aimed at eradicating ISIS.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions that need to be resolved quickly,” one official told TIME. “It’s not yet clear how this withdrawal will be handled.”

John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, said in September that countering Iran’s influence in Syria was a major policy goal. He pledged that American forces would stay inside the country as a counterweight to allowing Iran from establishing a stronghold in the region. “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias,” Bolton said.

American warplanes began bombing ISIS in Syria on Sept. 22, 2014, a month after the group released a grisly video depicting the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Since then, the U.S.-led coalition has launched some 17,000 airstrikes in the country.

U.S. Will Withdraw From Syria

The U.S. and its allies sent small amount of ground forces since then, trying to build up Syrian allies’ military and police forces sufficient to defend their territory without outside help. Despite the impending pullout, the U.S. will remain involved in the worldwide fight against ISIS throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia for years to come.

Just how the President’s decision will play out remains something of a mystery. The White House hosted a phone call with reporters Wednesday in which a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was unable to answer several straightforward questions on how the troop withdrawal would take place and what the Administration’s Syria policy would be in the future.

The White House referred questions to the Pentagon. The Pentagon, in turn, referred questions to the White House.

Read more

North Korea Says It Won’t Denuclearize Unless the U.S. Removes Its Own Nuclear Threat First

North Korea Says

(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea said Thursday it will never unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons unless the United States removes its nuclear threat first, a bombshell statement that could rattle a fragile diplomacy between Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang to defuse the nuclear crisis.

The statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency came amid a deadlock in nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea over the sequencing of the denuclearization process and removal of international sanctions.

It raises further doubts on whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will ever voluntarily relinquish an arsenal he may see as a stronger guarantee of survival than whatever security assurances the United States could provide. It also suggests that North Korea will demand the United States withdraw or significantly reduce the 28,500 American troops stationed in South Korea, which would be a major sticking point to a potential disarmament deal.

Kim and President Donald Trump met June 12 in Singapore where they issued a vague goal for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.

But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan. In Thursday’s statement, the North made clear it’s sticking to its traditional stance on denuclearization. It accused Washington of misleading what had been agreed on in Singapore and driving the post-summit talks into an impasse.

“The United States must now recognize the accurate meaning of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and especially, must study geography,” the statement said.

“When we talk about the Korean Peninsula, it includes the territory of our republic and also the entire region of (South Korea) where the United States has placed its invasive force, including nuclear weapons. When we talk about the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it means the removal of all sources of nuclear threat, not only from the South and North but also from areas neighboring the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.

The United States removed its tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in the 1990s. Washington and Seoul did not immediately respond to the North Korean statement.

North Korea Says

“The blunt statement could be an indicator that the North has no intentions to return to the negotiation table anytime soon,” said Shin Beomchul, a senior analyst at Seoul’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies. “It’s clear that the North intends to keep its nukes and turn the diplomatic process into a bilateral arms reduction negotiation with the United States, rather than a process where it unilaterally surrenders its program.”

The nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang stalled since the Trump-Kim meeting. The United States wants North Korea to provide a detailed account of nuclear and missile facilities that would be inspected and dismantled under a potential deal, while the North is insisting that sanctions be lifted first.

The North Korean statement came a day after Stephen Biegun, the Trump’s administration’s special envoy on North Korea, told reporters in South Korea that Washington was reviewing easing travel restrictions on North Korea to facilitate humanitarian shipments to help resolve the impasse in nuclear negotiations.

Read more