US PRESIDENT Trump Spent the WW1 Armistice Centenary weekend in Europe, and in a foul mood too after his dreams for a grand military parade evaporated

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ‘our interests first; who cares about the others?’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential — its moral values.”
|AIWA! NO!|US PRESIDENT Trump spent the weekend in France, skipping World War I commemoration events and apparently sulking in front of the television, instead of enjoying the grand military parade he’d once envisioned for himself.

The president was dazzled last year by the 2017 Bastille Day parade in Paris, and he notified defense officials he wanted a display like that for Veterans Day the following year, reported CNN.

But military officials balked at the nearly $100 million cost, and eventually persuaded the president he needed to mark the 100th anniversary of World War I’s end with other world leaders.

The solemn events he found in Paris were more stately than spectacular, and he sent a series of tweets grousing about vote recounts back in the U.S. and blaming massive California wildfires on forest management.

World leaders in Paris for World war one centenary
U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of monarchs, princes, presidents, and prime ministers joined French President Emmanuel Macron to mark the moment guns fell silent across Europe a century ago

Trump remained at the U.S. ambassador’s residence Saturday after military and security officials determined cloud cover posed a safety hazard for the president’s Marine One helicopter, but the White House did not have a backup plan in place to get Trump to the Aisne-Marne American cemetery.

The White House declined to say how Trump spent those hours that opened up in his schedule, but the president tweeted that evening he’d had “some very productive meetings and calls for our country today.”

Trump arrived late, and alone, as other world leaders marched shoulder to shoulder down the Champs-Élysées.

The White House cited unspecified “security protocols” for Trump missing out on the event.

French president Emmanuel Macron took a pointed shot at Trump, who bragged ahead of the midterms that he was a “nationalist,” during the ceremony marking the armistice.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying ‘our interests first; who cares about the others?’, we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great, and what makes it essential — its moral values.”

WORLD LEADERS laud fallen soldiers on eve of armistice centennial

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold hands after unveiling a plaque in the Clairiere of Rethondes during a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Compiegne, France, November 10, 2018. Photo by Philippe Wojazer/Pool via Reuters

Leaders laud fallen soldiers on eve of armistice centennial

|AIWA! NO!|PARIS — Traveling from across the world to monuments honoring soldiers who fell 100 years ago, victors and vanquished alike marked those sacrifices Saturday ahead of Armistice Day and assessed alliances that have been redrawn dramatically since the dark days of World War I.

The leaders of former enemies France and Germany, in an intimate gesture that underscored their countries’ current roles as guarantors of peace in Europe, held their heads together at the site north of Paris where the defeated Germans and the Allies signed the agreement that ended the 1914-18 war.

After Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly snuggled her head into the neck of French President Emmanuel Macron, the two went inside a replica of the train car where the armistice was reached and put their names in a guestbook. Macron then took Merkel’s hand in his, again highlighting the changes on the continent where two world wars were fought in the 20th century.

“Our Europe has been at peace for 73 years. There is no precedent for it, and it is at peace because we willed it and first and foremost, because Germany and France wanted it,” he said.

Merkel was equally convinced of the power their friendship exudes.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet with veterans at the Clairiere of Rethondes, during a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Compiegne, France, November 10, 2018. Photo by Philippe Wojazer/Pool via Reuters

“The will is there, and I say this for Germany with full conviction, to do everything to achieve a more peaceful order in the world even though we know we have very, very much work still ahead of us,” she said.

The open show of affection was a welcome antidote for Macron. Earlier Saturday, the French leader had a somewhat awkward meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. As Air Force One landed in Paris on Friday night, Trump wrote on Twitter he had been “very” insulted by comments Macron made in the days before that he considered anti-American.

A century ago, the entry of U.S. troops into World War I tipped the momentum toward its allies, including France and Britain. Even as he embarked on two days of observances for the Nov. 11, 1918 armistice, Trump said the United States now bears far too much of the burden to defend the West.

A flurry of Armistice-related diplomacy once again turned Paris, the jewel that Germany sought to take in 1914 but which the Allies successfully fought to defend, into the center of global attention Saturday as dozens of world leaders arrived in the French capital on the eve of the solemn centennial commemorations.

A portrait of a soldier is displayed at the Armistice Museum in the Clairiere de Rethondes in Compiegne where the Germans signed the armistice in 1918 that ended the World War One, France, August 30, 2018. Picture taken August 30, 2018.  Photo by Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Merkel’s appearance in Compiegne marked how her nation’s bloodstained history with France has become a close alliance that is now the driving force behind the European Union.

In the four years of fighting, remembered for brutal trench warfare and the first use of gas, France, the British empire, Russia and the United States had the main armies opposing a German-led coalition that also included the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires.

Almost 10 million soldiers died. France lost 1.4 million and Germany 2 million.

Yet, despite a war that was supposed to end all wars, World War II pitted both sides against each other once again in 1940.

Across the line that once marked the Western Front, leaders lauded the courage of soldiers who were killed during the unprecedented slaughter, before converging on Paris for a dinner.

The armistice entered into force on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, and on Sunday 69 world leaders will commemorate the centennial of the event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, underneath the Arc de Triomphe in central Paris.

A view shows the table inside the replica of the wagon where the Germans signed the armistice in 1918 that ended the World War One at the Armistice Museum in the Clairiere de Rethondes in Compiegne, France, August 30, 2018.  Picture taken August 30, 2018.   Photo by Christian Hartmann/Reuters

At dawn Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Vimy Ridge, the battlefield in northern France where Canada found its sense of self when it defeated German opposition against the odds.

Standing amid the white headstones against an ashen sky, Trudeau addressed the fallen, saying what Canada has achieved in the past century has been “a history built on your sacrifice. You stand for the values on which Canada was built.”

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PM @Theresa_May and President @EmmanuelMacron laid a wreath of poppies and le bleuet at the Thiepval Memorial.

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In southern Belgium’s Mons, Canadians were also lauding George Price, the last Commonwealth soldier to die in the war when he was shot by a German sniper two minutes before the armistice took effect.

Trump was looking beyond the tragedy of death and destruction, asking in a tweet: “Is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war, in particular that one, which was one of the bloodiest and worst of all time?”

After his meeting with Macron, Trump had been scheduled to head to the battlefield of Belleau Wood, 90 kilometers (55 miles) northeast of the capital, where U.S. troops had their breakthrough battle by stopping a German push for Paris shortly after entering the war in 1917.

The battle of Belleau Wood proved America’s mettle to allies and foes alike, and by the time the war ended U.S. forces were at least an equal to any of the other major armies, which were exhausted and depleted.

However, Trump canceled his visit because of bad weather and immediately came in for criticism.

“It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary – and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow,” David Frum, a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, tweeted,

The White House sent a delegation that included chief of staff John Kelly in Trump’s place. Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, said the White House should have had a fallback plan for the president.

“There is always a rain option. Always,” Rhodes said.

Trump is scheduled to visit a different U.S. cemetery close to Paris on Sunday.

John Leicester contributed.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan: “Recording of dying Saudi journalist Khashoggi as he was killed in Istanbul shared with Saudi Arabia, Britain, France, and Germany in addition to the United States.”

The tape of Khashoggi’s killing has been given to U.S., Saudi, Europeans, Erdogan says

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament in Ankara on Oct. 23. (Tumay Berkin/Reuters)

|LOVEDAY MORRIS, The Washington Post|AIWA! NO!| An audio recording that Turkish officials say captures the dying moments of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as he is killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul has been shared with Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany in addition to the United States, the Turkish president said Saturday. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at Ankara airport before departing for Paris for commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

“We gave it to Saudi Arabia,” he said of the recording. “We gave it to America. To the Germans, French, English, we gave it to all of them.”

Turkey has not said how it has a recording from inside the consulate.

Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post World Opinions section, was killed at the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 as he went to collect a document he needed to get married. Turkey has said the killing was carried out by a 15-man Saudi hit squad that traveled to Istanbul from Saudi Arabia to kill him.

Erdogan has previously said the orders came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

GERMANY CHANCELLOR Angela Merkel: EU May Jointly Stop Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

|CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA! NO!|The leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and Turkey met in Istanbul on October 27 to discuss issues of the Syrian peace settlement. They also discussed the case of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the European Union might make a collective decision to halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. At the same time, she agreed with her French counterpart Emmanuel Macron that the decision should be made after more is known about those responsible for his death.

Turkish President on Khashoggi’s Case

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier during the Istanbul Summit on Syria that Turkey has shared the results of the investigation into the murder of the Saudi journalist with other leaders in attendance.

While Erdogan praised the results of the discussions between Turkish and Saudi prosecutors working on the Khashoggi case, he also called for Saudi Arabia to reveal the individuals that issued the order to send the 18 people responsible for murdering the journalist.

US Scrapping The ‘Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces’ Treaty Makes World More Dangerous, Russia Forced To ‘Restore balance’ – Kremlin

The IntermediateRange Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty, formally Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their IntermediateRange and Shorter-Range Missiles) is a 1987 arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union now Russia

US scrapping INF would make world more dangerous, force Russia to ‘restore balance’ – Kremlin
US Army’s Pershing ballistic missile is ready for firing, Cape Canaveral, Florida, April 21, 1962 © Getty Images

If indeed Washington turns its back on the landmark agreement, the ban on the production of short and intermediate range missiles would be lifted.

Such steps [US quitting the deal], if they are undertaken, will make the world a more dangerous place

US President Donald Trump sent shock waves over the weekend, promising to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Using the evergreen ‘Russia violated agreements’ argument, he called the accord “unacceptable.”

READ MORE: ‘Disastrous decision’: Berlin warns Trump against dismantling INF deal with Russia

Then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the deal in 1987 and it went into effect the next year. It is considered a milestone in ending the Cold War arms race between the two superpowers, the USSR and the US.

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Withdraw first, ask later: He nuked Russia-US relations, now Bolton arrives in Moscow to talk https://on.rt.com/9gz0 

The agreement, in particular, envisioned the elimination of nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. Dismissing the allegation that Russia has violated the terms of the deal, Peskov said Moscow is committed to the accord. Notably, he added, Washington has not undertaken any official steps to quit it, which includes a formal notification of withdrawal.

What is the scrapping of the INF Treaty? This means that the US not only discreetly, but openly starts to develop these systems in the future.

Moscow in turn will not sit idly, but will be forced to “restore the balance in this area,” Peskov said.

READ MORE: Moscow to take ‘military-technical’ measures if US goes on breaking treaties – Russian deputy FM

Tensions over the Cold War-era treaty will be on the table during the ongoing visit of US National Security Adviser John Bolton to Moscow. Reiterating that Kremlin has never considered the decades-old pact a relic of the past, Peskov acknowledged that some countries still have started to develop what can be viewed as intermediate- and short-range missiles.

However, Russia and the US “remain two key powers who hold responsibility for the world’s stability and security.”

Trump’s decision raised eyebrows among some of America’s key allies – France and Germany. Paris issued a reminder that the treaty is essential for European stability, while German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called it “an important pillar of European security architecture.” China also took a hit at Washington insisting that the accord eased international relations and maintained “a global strategic balance.”

On Sunday, top Russian lawmakers denounced Washington’s threats to dump the INF deal, calling it “blackmail.”Scrapping it, would bring the international community closer to nuclear war and “complete chaos” in the field of nuclear weapons. Trump’s words are akin to placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet,” Leonid Slutsky, who chairs the International Relations Committee in Russia’s lower parliament house argued.

Saudi Crown Prince Spoke To Khashoggi By Phone Moments Before He Was Killed: Report

“Khashoggi refused Prince Mohammed’s offer out of fear he would be arrested and killed if he returned. The assassination team then killed Khashoggi after the conversation ended,” it added.

While the report is so far unconfirmed, the New Arab reports that so far Turkish pro-government media have been receiving a steady stream of leaks many of which turned out to be accurate, including pictures of the hit team as they entered Turkey and reports of audio recordings of the murder said to be in the possession of Turkish authorities.

Meanwhile, the Saudi version of events has been changing significantly over the past two weeks with authorities conceded Saturday that Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and a Riyadh critic, was killed inside the kingdom’s Istanbul diplomatic compound following a “brawl”. The admission came after a fortnight of denials with the insistence that the journalist left the consulate alive, starting on October 5, when Crown Prince MBS told Bloomberg that Khashoggi was not inside the consulate and “we are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises”.

On Saturday, the kingdom announced it had fired five top officials and arrested 18 others in an investigation into the killing – a move that has widely been viewed as an attempt to cover up the crown prince’s role in the murder.

The shifting Saudi narrative of the killing has been met with scepticism and condemnation from the international community, and has left the U.S. and other allies struggling for a response on Sunday. As Bloomberg reports, France demanded more information, Germany put arms sales to Riyadh on hold and the Trump administration stressed the vital importance of the kingdom and its economy to the U.S.

In Sunday radio and TV interviews, Dominic Raab, the U.K. politician in charge of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union, described the latest Saudi account as not credible; French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for “the truth’’; and Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his government would approve no arms sales so long as the investigation was ongoing.

Earlier on Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir acknowledged a cover-up attempt. The dramatic reversal, after Saudi officials had previously said the columnist left the building alive, has only complicated the issue for allies.

Saudi Arabia’s al-Jubeir told Fox News on Sunday that the journalist’s death was an “aberration.”

“There obviously was a tremendous mistake made and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to cover up,” he said, promising that “those responsible will be punished for it.”

More importantly, he said that Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the events, although if the Turkish report is confirmed, it will be yet another major flaw with the official narrative.

Several senior members of US President Donald Trump’s Republican Party said they believed Prince Mohammed was linked to the killing, and one called for a “collective” Western response if a link is proved. In an interview with The Washington Post, President Trump, too, said the Saudi narrative had been marked by “deception and lies.’’ Yet he also defended Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as a “strong person,’’ and said there was no proof of his involvement in Khashoggi’s death. Some members of Congress have questioned his willingness to exonerate the prince.

“Obviously there’s been deception and there’s been lies,” Trump said on the shifting accounts offered by Riyadh.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to disclose details about the case at a meeting of his AK Party’s parliamentary faction on Tuesday, Haberturk newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, as Western firms and high-ranked officials scramble to avoid any Saudi involvement, Russia is more than happy to step in and fill the power vacuum void left by the US. As a result, Russian businesses are flocking to attend the investment forum in Saudi Arabia, as Western counterparts pull out.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has had considerable success boosting Moscow’s influence in the Middle East at U.S. expense, by standing by regimes that fall afoul of the West, including in Syria and Iran. Last week Putin signed a strategic and partnership agreement with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, backed by $25 billion in loans to build nuclear reactors. Until El-Sisi came to power, Egypt had been closely allied to the U.S.

Meanwhile, all eyes are fixed squarely on the Crown Prince whose position of power is looking increasingly perilous. Congressional leaders on Sunday dismissed the story proffered earlier by the Saudis, with Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bob Corker of Tennessee saying they believed the crown prince was likely involved in Khashoggi’s death.

Lawmakers said they believe the U.S. must impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia or take other action if the crown prince is shown to have been involved. Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. should be formally expelled until a third-party investigation is done. He said the U.S. should call on its allies to do the same.

“Unless the Saudi kingdom understands that civilized countries around the world are going to reject this conduct and make sure that they pay a price for it, they’ll continue doing it,”’ Durbin said.

The obvious question is what happens and how the Saudi royal family will respond if it is pushed too far, and whether the worst case scenario, a sharp cut in oil exports, could be on the table if MBS feels like he has little to lose from escalating the situation beyond a point of no return.

UNITED NATIONS, WASHINGTON D.C. – At UN, Russia says meddling claims baseless, slams the US

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives for a news conference at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
© The Associated Press Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrives for a news conference at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

By ANGELA CHARLTON, Associated Press (AIWA! NO!)//UNITED NATIONS — Russia’s foreign minister trashed accusations of Russian meddling abroad as “baseless” and used the podium at the U.N.’s biggest event to tear into U.S. policies in Iran, Syria and Venezuela. He later declared that U.S.-Russian relations “are bad and probably at their all-time low.”

In a rapid-fire, unforgiving speech Friday, Sergey Lavrov pounded away at “self-serving” unilateral moves by U.S. President Donald Trump and assailed crippling Western sanctions against Russia as “political blackmail.”

Lavrov deflected accusations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a nerve agent attack in Britain and other meddling abroad — despite mounting evidence of a broad, coordinated influence campaign.

He criticized “baseless accusations of interference in the internal affairs of certain countries” and turned it around against the West, accusing unnamed forces of “overt endeavors to undermine democratically elected governments,” in an apparent reference to U.S. and EU support for Russia’s neighbors and the Syrian opposition.

He expanded on that at a news conference later, giving examples of U.S. interference that included the U.S. envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volcker, promoting efforts to replace the 2015 agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany to end the violence in eastern Ukraine.

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He also cited the case of Maria Butina, who has pleaded not guilty to U.S. charges that she tried to infiltrate U.S. political organizations as a covert Russian agent. Russia has called her jailing “preposterous.”

In his U.N. address, Lavrov was particularly angry over U.S. and EU sanctions over Russia’s actions abroad, saying, “We see the desire of several Western nations to preserve their self-proclaimed status as world leaders … and do not hesitate to use any methods including political blackmail, economic pressure and brute force.”

He defended the 2015 deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program and said “we will do everything possible” to preserve it. Lavrov called Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal part of a dangerous trend of unilateral measures that risk damaging the post-World War II world order.

Later, at the press conference, he welcomed Monday’s agreement by the five powers still supporting the nuclear agreement — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — to establish a financing facility in the European Union to facilitate doing business with Iran, a key part of the deal which is threatened by U.S. sanctions.

Related Gallery: Reactions to Trump-Putin meeting (Photo services)

“All avenues, all ways are being discussed for Iran to receive what was promised by the Security Council,” he said, including a barter system for oil.Lavrov defended the United Nations — where Russia holds veto power on the Security Council — as the only legitimate place to resolve international issues and disputes.

Russia is framing itself as a counterweight to U.S. power around the world, and Lavrov has been maneuvering in talks at the U.N. this week to shape the future of Syria, influence nonproliferation negotiations with North Korea and bolster Venezuela’s embattled president.

Lavrov met Friday with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem at the U.N. Russia is rebuilding trade and military ties with Syria as it looks to a postwar future.

While tensions linger over the last rebel stronghold of Idlib, Russia is determined to keep Syria solidly anchored in its sphere of influence over the long term, as a foothold in the Middle East and as a warning to the U.S. and its allies against future interference.

Also at the news conference:

— Lavrov said talks have begun between U.S. national security adviser John Bolton and his Russian counterpart who are planning their third meeting since June. He said this was at least an effort to maintain relations and “to roll back and lower” tensions.

— He appeared to accuse unnamed Trump officials of purposely getting in the way of improved U.S.-Russia relations, claiming that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held “quite constructive” meetings in Germany and Finland, but those responsible for implementing the agreements that were reached “are in no hurry to do that.” He cited the absence of any U.S.-Russia talks on important issues including counter-terrorism, cyber-security, strategic stability and major arms control agreements. He said meetings of foreign affairs and defense officials, intelligence and security agencies are also on hold.

“The time for the negotiations is ripe, or I would say overripe,” he said. “The dialogue right now is in limbo.”

—Lavrov rejected the idea of sidelining Iran as a regional player in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. “I don’t think that you can lock it in a cage within its borders.”

He noted that rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar also have legitimate interests and are pursuing them beyond their borders. “So hoping that you can lock Iranians within their own borders, … I don’t think that’s realistic,” he said. The answer, he said, is for all players in the region to sit down and negotiate.

— Lavrov said Russia has started delivering sophisticated S-300 air defense systems to Syria following the Sept. 17 downing of a Russian military reconnaissance aircraft by Syrian forces responding to an Israeli air strike that killed all 15 people on board. The friendly fire incident sparked tensions in the region.

He also sharply criticized seven countries — the U.S., Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — for pressuring Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. envoy for Syria, to convene a committee to start drafting a new constitution for the country when there is still no agreement on the 50 civil society members who will serve on that committee. “That would be a grave mistake,” he said, stressing Moscow’s opposition to “artificial timelines.”

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Edith M. Lederer and Jennifer Peltz at the United Nations contributed.

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Follow Angela Charlton on Twitter at @acharlton.

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