Trump President Donald Trump waves as he steps off Air Force One after arriving, Friday, June 7, 2019, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced late Friday that he had suspended plans to impose tariffs on Mexico, tweeting that the country „has agreed to take strong measures” to stem the flow of Central American migrantsinto the United States. But the deal the two neighbors agreed to falls short of some of the dramatic overhauls the U.S. had pushed for.A „U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration” released by the State Department said the U.S. „will immediately expand the implementation” of a program that returns asylum-seekers who cross the southern border to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated. Mexico will „offer jobs, healthcare and education” to those people, the agreement stated.Mexico has also agreed, it said, to take „unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard throughout the country, especially on its southern border with Guatemala. And Mexico is taking „decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks,” the State Department said.The move puts to an end — for now — a threat that had sparked dire warnings from members of Trump’s own party, who warned the tariffs would damage the economy, drive up prices for consumers and imperil an updated North American trade pact. Trump’s Friday night tweet marked a sharp reversal from earlier in the day, when his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters: „Our position has not changed. The tariffs are going forward as of Monday.”Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador tweeted, „Thanks to the support of all Mexicans, the imposition of tariffs on Mexican products exported to the USA has been avoided.” He called for a gathering to celebrate in Tijuana Saturday.The changes, in part, continue steps the Trump administration was already taking. The U.S. announced in December that it would make some asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases were being proceeded — a begrudging agreement with Mexico that has taken months to scale and that has been plagued with glitches, including wrong court dates, travel problems and issues with lawyers reaching their clients.Homeland Security officials have been ramping up slowly, and were already working to spread the program along the border before the latest blowup. About 10,000 people have been returned to Mexico to wait out the processing of their immigration cases since the program began Jan. 29. More than 100,000 migrants are currently crossing the U.S. border each month, but not everyone claims asylum and migrants can wait an entire year before making a claim.Any sizable increase may also be difficult to achieve. At the San Ysidro crossing alone, Mexico had been prepared to accept up to 120 asylum seekers per week, but for the first six weeks only 40 people per week were returned.Trump had announced the tariff plan last week, declaring in a tweet that, on June 10, the U.S. would „impose a 5% Tariff on all goods coming into our Country from Mexico, until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.” U.S. officials had laid out steps Mexico could take to prevent the tariffs, but many had doubts that even those steps would be enough to satisfy Trump on illegal immigration, a signature issue of his presidency and one that he sees as crucial to his 2020 re-election campaign.After returning from Europe Friday, though, Trump tweeted, „I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico.” He wrote that the „Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended.”He said Mexico has agreed to work to „stem the tide of Migration through Mexico, and to our Southern Border” and said those steps would „greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.”The 5% tax on all Mexican goods , which would increase every month up to 25% under Trump’s plan, would have had enormous economic implications for both countries. Americans bought $378 billion worth of Mexican imports last year, led by cars and auto parts. Many members of Trump’s Republican Party and business allies had urged him to reconsider — or at least postpone actually implementing the tariffs as talks continue — citing the potential harm to American consumers and manufactures.From the moment Trump announced the tariff threat, observers wondered whether he would pull the trigger, noting his habit of creating problems and then claiming credit when he rushes in to solve them.In late March, Trump threatened to shut the entire U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico didn’t immediately halt illegal immigration. Just a few days later, he backed off that threat, saying he was pleased with steps Mexico had taken. It was unclear, however, what — if anything — Mexico had changed.U.S. and Mexican officials met for more than 10 hours Friday during a third day of talks at the U.S. State Department trying to hash out a deal that would satisfy Trump’s demand that Mexico dramatically increase its efforts to crack down on migrants.The talks had been focused, in part, on attempting to reach a compromise on changes that would make it harder for migrants who pass through Mexico from other countries to claim asylum in the U.S., those monitoring the situation said. Mexico has long opposed such a change but appeared open to considering a potential compromise that could include exceptions or waivers for different types of cases. The joint declaration, however makes no mention of the issue.Leaving the State Department Friday night, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said he thought the deal struck „a fair balance” because the U.S. „had more drastic proposals and measures at the start.”But Leticia Calderón Cheluis, a migration expert at the Mora Institute in Mexico City, said the agreement is essentially a series of compromises solely by Mexico, which she said committed to „a double clamp at both borders.”Trump in recent months has embraced tariffs as a political tool he can use to force countries to comply with his demands — in this case on his signature issue of immigration. Beyond Trump and several White House advisers, though, few in his administration had believed the tariffs were a good idea, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations. Those people had worried about the negative economic consequences for Americans and argued that tariffs — which would likely spark retaliatory taxes on U.S. exports — would also hurt the administration politically.Republicans in Congress had also warned the White House that they were ready to stand up to the president to try to block his tariffs, which they worried would spike costs to U.S. consumers, harm the economy and imperil a major pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal .Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., greeted Friday night’s news with sarcasm. „This is an historic night!” he tweeted. „Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.”_Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Colleen Long, Paul Wiseman, Lisa Mascaro, Darlene Superville and Padmananda Rama in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in Shannon, Ireland contributed to this report.
Donald Trump is flying home to Washington on Friday after a five-day state visit to Britain, Ireland and France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Daybut can expect to find himself immediately confronted with a number of major issues left stewing in his absence.
After the enjoying the pageantry of his royal reception in London, the president will arrive home this afternoon to face escalating trade tensions with Mexico and China and further calls for his impeachment, with House speaker Nancy Pelosireportedly telling her fellow Democrats on Tuesday: “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison.”
Mr Trump hit back at Ms Pelosi, calling her “a disaster” during an interview with Laura Ingraham of Fox News staged in front of the Normandy American Cemetery in plain view of 9,000 war graves, an insensitivity for which both the president and the network have been heavily criticised.
The president also caused mass confusion on Twitter when he urged NASA not to plan any further trips to the moon, instead directing all of their efforts to Mars.
“For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago,” he wrote on Twitter.
He added, “They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”
Mr Trump also declared Friday that now “there is a good chance” the US will strike a deal with Mexico to avert the tariffs he had scheduled for Monday to force the nation’s ally to stem the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.
“If we are able to make the deal with Mexico, & there is a good chance that we will, they will begin purchasing Farm & Agricultural products at very high levels, starting immediately,” Mr Trump tweeted from aboard Air Force One as he flew home from Europe. “If we are unable to make the deal, Mexico will begin paying Tariffs at the 5% level on Monday!
The tweet marked a change in tone from earlier Friday, when his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders had told reporters in Ireland before Mr Trump took off: “Our position has not changed. The tariffs are going forward as of Monday.”
US and Mexican officials were holding a third day of talks at the US State Department Friday trying to hash out a deal that would satisfy Mr Trump’s demand that Mexico dramatically increase its efforts to crack down on migrants.
Ms Sanders had said earlier that the two sides had “made a lot of progress” but not enough
US Russian Ships
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and Russia accused each other of unsafe actions on Friday after an American guided-missile cruiser and a Russian destroyer came within 165 feet (50 meters) of each other in the Philippine Sea.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters that the U.S. will file a formal diplomatic complaint about the incident and will have military to military conversations with the Russians. He added that the encounter will not deter the U.S. from conducting naval operations.
The U.S. 7th Fleet said the Russian destroyer put the safety of the USS Chancellorsville and its crew at risk, forcing it to reverse all engines at full throttle to avoid a collision.
No one was injured, and the ships never came into contact, said Navy Cdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Japan-based 7th Fleet.
An American helicopter was preparing to land on the Chancellorsville, which was traveling on a steady course, when the Russian destroyer, traveling behind the U.S. ship, started moving faster and approached as close as 50-100 feet (15-30 meters), the 7th Fleet said in a statement.”We consider Russia’s actions during this interaction as unsafe and unprofessional and not in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), ‘Rules of the Road,’ and internationally recognized maritime customs,” the statement said.It was the first such incident involving warships in the region since September, when the Chinese warship Luoyang maneuvered close to the USS Decatur , a Navy destroyer, in the South China Sea, an incident the U.S. also labeled unprofessional and unsafe. The U.S. at the time said the Chinese ship came within 45 yards (41 meters) of the American ship, forcing it to maneuver out of the way. The Chinese said the Luoyang had been deployed to drive the U.S. vessel away from islands that China claims as its own.The U.S. also has repeatedly complained in recent years that Russian planes have flown dangerously close to American aircraft, and the two nations routinely shadow each other in international airspace.In this latest incident, in open ocean northeast of the Philippines, the Russian military accused the Chancellorsville of making a dangerous maneuver by crossing the path of the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov. The U.S. said the incident happened in the Philippine Sea, while the Russians said it was in the East China Sea, which is further west and closer to China.The Russian military said in a statement that the U.S. cruiser „suddenly changed direction and crossed the path of Admiral Vinogradov just 50 meters (165 feet) away,” forcing the crew of the Russian ship to make a quick maneuver to avoid a collision. It said its navy sent a radio message in protest.With U.S.-Russian relations at post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Russian and U.S. militaries have frequently exchanged accusations of what they describe as unsafe maneuvers by the other side’s warplanes and navy ships._Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.
MARAWI CITY, Philippines — It had only been a week since Mohammad Ali Acampong finished renovating his house when bombs and bullets struck Marawi City.
Two years ago, pro-Islamic State militants took over in a bid to carve out their own “Wilayah,” or province, forcing nearly 100,000 people to flee in what became the Philippine military’s toughest and longest conflict since World War II.
Acampong, a local government official, and his family of eight, left his three-story lakeside house.
“When the chaos began, our life suddenly became really difficult,” Acampong, 42, told Reuters.
“We had a comfortable life before. Now we live in between shelters, enduring heat, the lack of water, the lack of everything.”
Marawi was once one of the most picturesque cities in the Philippines.
About half of it is now charred concrete and skeletons of buildings, the effects of 154 days of airstrikes and artillery fire by the military, and booby traps the rebels laid everywhere to keep people at bay.
The Acampongs now live in a tiny temporary housing unit on the city’s outskirts, competing with thousands of families for water and other basic utilities.
At least 500 other families live in plastic tents, like Asnia Sandiman, 25, who produces made-to-order clothing with a government-issued sewing machine.
“The tent is fine until it rains and it gets so cold, or until the heat is so bad,” Sandiman said.
“My deepest hope is that we are allowed to go back to Marawi but honestly, I would take any permanent address just to get out of here.”
Hundreds of militants, 165 soldiers and at least 45 civilians were killed in the five-month conflict. President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2017 declared the city liberated and its rehabilitation officially underway.
But there is little sign of progress.
Bangon Marawi (Rise Marawi), an interagency task force in charge of reconstruction, has a deadline of 2021 for rebuilding and remains confident of meeting that.
“We could only go as fast as legally possible. We can’t make shortcuts,” its field office manager, Felix Castro, said.
“It takes a while in the beginning but it will be quick once it starts.”
Except for stray dogs and soldiers on guard, Marawi’s commercial center has been abandoned. There is no sign of the promised rehabilitation.
Thousands of people are in limbo following a conflict that no one saw coming.
Most are jobless and dependent on relief goods, like Noronisah Laba Gundarangin, a mother of three, who lives with four other families in her sister’s home.
The 73,000 pesos ($1,385) her family received from government agencies isn’t enough for a small business. They have debts to pay and children to feed.
Gundarangin, 40, wonders what happened to all the help and money pledged by the international community when the war was in the spotlight. The authorities say not all of that has materialized.
“I know billions (of pesos) were donated to Marawi, but they go through so much bureaucracy that by the time it reaches us, they are pennies,” she said.
The task force commander, Eduardo del Rosario, on Monday said obstacles to progress were debris, unexploded ordnance and unsafe structures, but said those should all be cleared by November, with some construction to start in September.
While awaiting that, the task force has been allowing people to return to see the place they once called home. Now they call it “ground zero.”
Acampong gave his consent for his house to be demolished. He returned recently and found a papaya tree growing in its place.
“It’s painful because we had nothing to do with this war. We were just caught up,” he said.
“Everything we’ve worked hard for, all the big and small investments, are now all gone.”
“Every day, it’s like this. Waiting and waiting, as if waiting for death.” (Reuters)
Photography by Eloisa Lopez/Reuters
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