Washington:US President Donald Trump will press Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Moscow’s denial of meddling in the 2016 presidential election when the two leaders meet next month, national security adviser John Bolton said .
Bolton said he discussed concerns about Russian meddling in the US elections with Putin during his visit to Moscow , citing activities targeting congressional elections coming up in November as well as the 2016 presidential contest.
“The election meddling issue was definitely something we talked about,” Bolton told the CBS “Face the Nation” program. Bolton said he brought up both the 2016 election and Russian activities in upcoming congressional elections.
Speaking about the meddling, Bolton told the “Fox News Sunday” program: “I think it’s something that we’re concerned about. That’s why the president is going to speak with him about it again.”
He said Putin told him that “there was no meddling in 2016 by the Russian state.”
Bolton said that was different from the Russians saying there was no meddling at all.
“I think the president will have to pursue that further and I think that’s one reason why he and President Putin need to have this conversation,” he said, adding that “Vladimir Putin is the one who makes the decisions and I think our leader needs to speak with him.”
Trump’s praise of Putin as a strong leader and his stated desire to forge better relations with Russia are of concern to critics. They fear he may cede too much during their first official summit on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.
The Republican president said he would raise the issue of election meddling with Putin as well as Russia’s role in Syria and Ukraine.
After Trump and Putin met briefly in Vietnam in November 2017, Trump was criticized in the United States for saying he believed Putin when he denied Russian meddling.
US intelligence agencies have alleged that Russian hackers had tried to help Trump win the White House, something Russia has flatly denied. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s campaign worked with Moscow. Trump denies any collusion and has called the probe a “witch hunt.”
Putin last month said patriotic Russian hackers may have staged cyber attacks against countries that had strained relations with Moscow and denied state intervention – a departure from the Kremlin’s previous denials of any Russian interference.
“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump tweeted last week.
“I’m concerned when the president tweets, you know, Russia denies they meddled in our election,” Republican US Senator Lindsay Graham told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program on Sunday. “When they say they didn’t meddle, they’re lying.
“So I’m glad the president is going to confront Putin. Show him the evidence you’ve got, Mr. President, because it’s overwhelming.”
Bolton also said he discussed Russia’s annexation of Crimea with Putin and his aides during a 90-minute meeting.
“President Putin was pretty clear with me about it, and my response was we’re going to have to agree to disagree on Ukraine,” he said. “That’s not the position of the United States.”
Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States in response, and its military intervention in the war in Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad are major causes of strain in the two countries’ relations.
Asked on Friday if the United States would recognize Crimea as part of Russia, Trump said: “We’re going to have to see.”
Peace talks with Taliban will happen soon: US
KABUL: The US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan said talks with the Taliban will “happen very soon” but if the insurgents continue to fight, then American forces would support Afghan forces in the war.
Talks between the Taliban and American officials have hit a roadblock after the hardline militants cancelled the fourth round of peace talks last week and rejected the involvement of the Afghan government in the dialogue.
The Taliban threatened to pull out of the peace process with the United States if they diverted from the issue of foreign force withdrawal from Afghanistan, a key demand of the insurgents to end the 17-year war.
The Taliban’s warning came hours after Zalmay Khalilzad landed in Afghanistan after meeting officials from India, China and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the peace process. “If the Taliban want to talk, we can talk. If they want to fight, we can fight,” Khalilzad told journalists in Kabul.
The White House has said President Donald Trump had not issued orders to the Pentagon to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, but the White House has not denied reports that the United States plans to pull out some of the 14,000-strong force currently deployed.
Khalilzad said: “We hope that they [Taliban] want to make peace. But if they do not choose to come to the table, if they choose to continue fighting, the United States will stand with the Afghan people and the Afghan government and support them.”
Speaking about the next date for a meeting with the Taliban, he said: “We are hopeful it will happen very soon. That’s what we’re working towards.” “What we want is to see this conflict end through negotiation, to continue our partnership with Afghanistan and to ensure no terrorist threatens either of us,” Khalilzad told reporters.
UN approves mission to shore up Yemen truce
UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the deployment to Yemen of up to 75 monitors in a new mission to shore up a fragile ceasefire and oversee a pullback of forces from the flashpoint port of Hodeida.
The observer mission was agreed during talks last month in Sweden between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels and an advance team is already on the ground in the rebel-held city.
The unarmed monitors will be sent to Hodeida city and port as well as to the ports of Saleef and Ras Issa for an initial period of six months.
The resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “expeditiously” deploy the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeida Agreement (UNMHA), led by retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert.
Guterres has described the mission as a “nimble presence” that will report on violations in Hodeida, which for months was the front line in the war after pro-government forces launched an offensive to capture it in June.
Human Rights Watch warned of a tough road ahead and urged the council to keep the pressure on the warring sides.
“The countdown for exchanging prisoners is fast approaching, but the parties have missed deadlines, putting the prisoner swap in jeopardy,” said Louis Charbonneau, HRW’s UN director.
Lift travel ban on opposition leaders: Pak SC asks Imran Khan govt
Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court Thursday ordered the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan to lift the travel ban imposed on opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and the Sindh Chief Minister, and asked the country’s anti-corruption body to probe their involvement in Rs 35 billion ‘fake accounts case’.
As many as 172 suspects were placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) on the recommendations of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the apex court.
A person cannot fly abroad if his name is placed on the ECL.
The Supreme Court, in a detailed judgement, ordered the government to remove the names of opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah from the ECL.
It, however, referred the report and material collected by the JIT in the Rs 35 billion ‘fake accounts case’ to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Dawn news reported.
The JIT probe focused on “32 fake accounts” which were allegedly used to give massive financial benefits to former president Asif Ali Zardari, his sister Faryal Talpur and several others.
“Removing of the names will not prevent (the) NAB to probe and in case sufficient material is found connecting these individuals with cognisable offences, it will not be precluded from making an appropriate request to the federal government to place their names on (the) ECL again or take any appropriate action provided by law,” according to the judgement authored by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan.
The apex court in its earlier instructions asked the government to delete names of Bilawal and Shah from the ECL but the Cabinet waited for the detailed judgment.
After the judgement, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government will decide whether it should implement the court orders or file a review petition.
Justice Ahsan was part of the three-judge bench that last year took a suo-motu cognisance after it emerged that several big names were involved in money laundering through fake accounts.
Currently, a Karachi court is hearing the case against Zardari and Talpur for alleged money laundering.