President Barack Obama has said the islands in the East China Sea disputed by Tokyo and Beijing are covered by the US-Japan defence treaty as he sought to use the first day of a trip to Asia to reassure anxious allies in the region.
In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Mr Obama became the first sitting US president to acknowledge that his country considered the islands – which Japan calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu – to be part of the defence alliance between Washington and Tokyo.
His comments were clearly designed to show support for Japan, Washington’s most important ally in the region, but immediately prompted an angry response from China which says the US is trying to encircle it.
“The policy of the United States is clear – the Senkaku islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security,” Mr Obama said in written responses to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. “And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”
Mr Obama is spending a week in the region, visiting Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. His trip comes at a time of considerable uncertainty in the region about US staying power, which has been prompted by the president’s public reverse over military action in Syria, defence budget cuts and political gridlock that caused Mr Obama to cancel an Asian trip last year. >> Read More
The BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi stepped up his attack on the Congress and lashed out at its leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, vowing to make them account for every penny and every minute.
“You have crossed all limits,” Modi said referring to the Congress at a rally at the end of his four-stop campaign tour of Gujarat. “You have even insulted Sardar Patel. I am going to take revenge.”
“I will seek accounts of every penny and every minute. Your CBI will not be able to harm me in any way. Twenty more days remain. Harass me as much as you can, I am still in the battlefield,” Modi said, speaking in Gujarati.
He repeatedly referred to the UPA government as the “government of mother and son”.
“The PM is coming, Soniaji is coming, yuvraaj will also come,” Modi said referring to the upcoming visits to Gujarat of Manmohan Singh, Sonia and Rahul.
“I want to tell them not to misguide the people of Gujarat. Your bidaai (departure) is certain, so better go with a smile on your face.”
UPDATE: Dutch fighter jets were scrambled after Russian bombers approached Dutch airspace; the Russian planes turned away
With both sides appearing to have entirely un-de-escalated and the truce deal now a thing of the past (besides a few hundred Dow points), the Russians are speaking up today – and are not happy:
- RUSSIA IS EXTREMELY SURPRISED BY KIEV AND WASHINGTON’S “DISTORTED” INTERPRETATION OF AGREEMENT REACHED IN GENEVA LAST WEEK ON DE-ESCALATION OF UKRAINE CRISIS – FOREIGN MINISTRY
- RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS KIEV AND WASHINGTON “CLOSING THEIR EYES” TO PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS BY NATIONALIST FORCES IN UKRAINE
And, on the heels of Turchynov’s official restart of the so-called anti-terrorist operation, Russia is calling on Ukraine to pull back military from Ukraine’s southeast… and rattles its sabre by undertaking a military exercise on the border. >> Read More
North Korea could be preparing for its fourth nuclear test in seven years, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Defence.
A spokesman from South Korea’s Ministry of Defence said that the country’s intelligence agencies have detected a lot of activity in the Punggye-ri area of the country, the place where North Korea’s nuclear test site is situated.
Speaking at a press briefing, Kim Min-Seok said: “Our military is currently detecting a lot of activity in and around the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.”
According, Min-Seok the North Koreans were at a stage at which a nuclear test could be launched “at any moment.”
The news takes on greater significance in the light of the fact that US President, Barack Obama, will visit South Korea at the end of this week. >> Read More
It would seem a red-line or two have been crossed:
- *UKRAINE MILITARY PLANE HIT BY GUNFIRE FROM REBEL TOWN: AFP
This comes on the heels of elevated tensions in the last few days since the “deal” and Biden’s arrival in Kiev. Last week saw ‘unidentified’ fighter jets open fire on the Pro-Russian-held Kramatorsk airfield.
#Ukraine Antonov An-30 military plane hit by gunfire over #Slavyansk during observation flight – Defense ministry http://t.co/VEWkRrxJ8e
— RT (@RT_com) April 22, 2014 >> Read More
Vice President Jo Biden’s show of support arrival in Ukraine started with a somewhat back-handed statement that left some questioning Biden’s diplomatic skills once again. “You face some very daunting problems and some might say humiliating threats are taking place,” Biden spoke to Ukraine officials, pledging an additional $50 million to help Ukraine’s beleaguered government with political and economic reforms. As CBS reports, The White House has also announced $8 million in nonlethal military assistance for the Ukrainian armed forces, including bomb-disposal equipment, communications gear and vehicles. Biden concluded his oratory with a threat – that seemed oddly worded given the ‘actions’ of the last few days, warning Russia that “it’s time to stop talking and start acting.”
As CBS reports, in the most high-level visit of a U.S. official since crisis erupted in Ukraine, Biden earlier told leaders from various political parties that he brought a message of support from President Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms.
“The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine and getting it right is within your grasp,” Biden said. “And we want to be your partner and friend in the project. We’re ready to assist.
Biden met acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov and acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and democracy activists before announcing the new aid. >> Read More
Above is Book Excerpt from “The Accidental Prime Minister ”
Russia has “days, not weeks” to abide by an international accord aimed at stemming the crisis in Ukraine, the top U.S. diplomat in Kiev warned Monday as Vice President Joe Biden launched a high-profile show of support for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. Russia in turn accused authorities in Kiev of flagrantly violating the pact and declared their actions would not stand.
Biden, the highest-ranking American official to visit Ukraine during its conflict with Russia, planned to meet with government officials in the capital of Kiev on Tuesday. The vice president also planned to announce new technical support to help the fledgling government with energy and economic reforms.
Biden’s trip comes days after the U.S., Russia, Ukraine and Europe signed an agreement in Geneva calling for Moscow to use its influence to get pro-Russian forces to leave the numerous government buildings they now occupy in cites throughout eastern Ukraine. The U.S. asserted on Monday that publicly available photographs from Twitter and other media show that some of the troops in eastern Ukraine are Russian special forces, and the U.S. said the photos support its case that Moscow is using its military to stir unrest in Ukraine.
There was no way to immediately verify the photographs, which were either taken from the Internet or given to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last week by Ukraine diplomats. >> Read More
- *KERRY SAYS GENEVA ACCORD ONLY ‘PIECE OF PAPER’ WITHOUT ACTION
So now what? More red-lines? More sanctions? Just don’t tell the headline-buying algos…
*KERRY URGES RUSSIA TO TAKE ‘CONCRETE STEPS’ TO EASE TENSIONS
- *KERRY ASKS RUSSIA TO SHOW COMMITMENT TO UKRAINE AGREEMENT
But seems to ignore the planned troop and equipment deployment in Poland and the fact that Ukraine forces said “military operations in East Ukraine will continue”