FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW! May 29, 2018, News . . . I think we’re in for a very long summer . . . so let’s all ‘hold tight’ — together! ~J :)

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Hawaii Lava-Flows Accelerate, Over 80 Structures Destroyed, Tourist Bookings Tumble 50%

The National Park Service reported that the closure of the park alone could cost the local economy $166 million…

 * * * 

US flatly rejects Assange’s Russiagate
testimony
. . . so there it is, very clearly stated!

 * * * 

So, let’s take a look at South America first today, because Ecuador is part of the Assange-Release Game. Let’s look, first, at the Venezuela election and Thierry Meyssan’s thoughts on its outcome:

The hidden stakes behind Venezuela’s presidential election, by Thierry Meyssan

The Presidential election in Venezuela was supposed to be the the occasion for launching a new stage in preparations for the destruction of the « Caribbean Basin ». At least, that was what SouthCom was hoping [1]. . . . Click article title to continue reading.

Comment by ~Jean – It’s my theory that the hurricane that changed directions was meant to help initiate the take-down of the Caribbean Basin.

NATO Comes to South America: Colombia Becomes Alliance’s Official Partner

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced on May 25 that his country had formally become a “global partner” of NATO — the first Latin American state to obtain an official status in the organization, which is to be formalized this week. Colombia joins Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Pakistan — other nations also listed as “partners across the globe” or “global partners,” but none of them in Latin America. The areas for cooperation include improvements to the combat capabilities of the Colombian military, good governance, military education and training, the security of sea lanes, cyber security, and ways to combat terrorism and organized crime. A partnership agreement with NATO was reached a year ago (May 2017) after the Colombian government concluded a peace accord with FARC, a former terrorist group that has since become a respectable political party. The president’s statement came on the same day that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that Bogota would be officially invited to join — their reward for steering a pro-Western course.Cooperation between Colombia and NATO has been on the rise since 2013. In 2016, Bogota signed a military cooperation agreement with the bloc. A 2009 bilateral deal allows the US to maintain bases on Colombian territory. In its move to become a NATO partner, Bogota is violating an essential principle of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which specifies that its member states cannot join military alliances.

. . . but . . . 

Colombia to Refrain From Joining NATO Operations Despite Partner Status 

“This program is aimed at creating the integrity of the armed forces. This does not mean that Colombia is becoming a member of NATO. We are not going to participate in NATO military operations,” the president explained.

On Friday, Santos announced that an agreement on the country’s partnership with NATO had been concluded, noting that Colombia would become the only country in Latin America to have such a privilege.

Colombia’s status as a NATO partner will be formalized in Brussels on May 31.

The country has recently ended the civil war, signing a peace deal with the FARC movement in November 2016 after more than 50 years of clashes, which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

. . . could this strange response to NATO be a result of the initial election, now headed into a runoff with the conservative (for the people) candidate took the lead in the first round? It looks like all is not going well for the US in South America . . . 

FARC deal critic to face leftist rival in Colombia’s presidential runoff

Colombia’s presidential election has headed to a runoff after conservative candidate Ivan Duque, a critic of the landmark peace deal with FARC rebels, took the lead in the first round but failed to secure an outright majority.

With almost all polling stations reporting the results on Sunday, neither candidate succeeded in obtaining the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid the runoff, which will be held on June 17.

Duque, 41, a right-wing candidate from the Democratic Center Party, came in first after bagging about 39.1 percent of the votes.

He will face runner-up Gustavo Petro, 48, a leftist from the Progressivists Movement, who finished in second place with around 25.1 percent of the ballots.

Business-friendly Duque has promised to cut corporate taxes and support oil and mining projects.

He has also pledged to toughen the terms of the peace deal, which was signed in 2016 between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and ended a five-decade conflict.

The politician said as president, he will ensure that the former FARC rebels pay for their crimes.

Presidential candidate Gustavo Petro from El Movimiento Progresistas, takes part in a TV debate in Bogota on May 24, 2018. (Photo by AFP)Meanwhile, Petro, who comes from poor roots and has a history of militancy, sent jitters among the rich with pledges to overhaul Colombia’s capitalistic economic policy and redistribute wealth.

 Petro has also been far more supportive of the FARC deal compared to his rival.

The eventual success of that deal will depend greatly on who wins the election.

 * * * 

Now on to other news — Italy is interesting at the moment:

Brussels-Rome war: EU holds back Italy’s anti-euro tide for now 

By pushing a presidential veto of Rome’s proposed new government, Brussels may have secured the euro’s status in Italy, for now. However, it may prove to be only a stay of execution. 

As I write, a constitutional crisis has erupted in Italy after its President – who normally fulfils only a ceremonial role – refused to allow the prospective new coalition government to appoint Paolo Savona as finance minister. 

Superficially, this is a ridiculous decision: Savona is a distinguished 81-year-old economist who has worked at Italy’s Central Bank and Treasury, created the first model of the Italian economy, and – among numerous other honors – was a minister in a previous Italian government in 1993-94. Was his age the problem? 

No, President Sergio Mattarella’s problem with Savona is that he is a critic of the euro. And Mattarella’s obstructionism is a problem for the prospective coalition government of the self-described anti-establishment Five Star Movement (founded by the satirist and activist Beppe Grillo) and the originally secessionist, but now federalist, Lega Nord (Northern League) – because about the only thing they have in common is opposition to the euro and the austerity policies that have come with it following the 2008 crisis. . . . Click article title to continue reading.

‘We are with people, not bankers’: Italian Euroskeptic coalition lashes out at pro-EU interim PM

Italian Banks, Bonds Crash As Di Maio Calls For Protests Against “The Arrogance Of Institutions”

Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio addressed the Italian nation on  a live Facebook feed this afternoon calling for them to mobilize against the institution represented by President Mattarella and demanding a new election as soon as possible.

“We can not stand watching, we must react immediately firmly. Today he will hang an Italian flag out the window and ask you to do the same. We claim the pride of being Italian…”

“There are tons of lies. I have said throughout the electoral campaign that we do not want to leave the euro. Savona would not take us out of the euro, he would have asserted Italy’s interests in the EU headquarters “.

“On June 2nd I invite everyone to come to Rome for a great demonstration.”

Yesterday – with the “no” of the Quirinale to the binding of Lega and M5s on the name of Sardinian economist Paolo Savona – “was the darkest night of democracy”, he added.

“We ask to go to the vote as soon as possible. Even in August? As soon as possible”, he clarified at the end of the meeting in the Chamber with Matteo Salvini.

“We are totally convinced to carry on” the impeachment.

“President Mattarella has decided to entrust the country to a technician in the mountains.”

“It is an ignoble act not to have allowed” the birth of the government governed by M5s and Lega.

“I was a deep admirer of the Democratic Party and I am really disappointed. Some of Mattarella’s advisors should be put on trial, but there is no such institution,” he adds.

“The president has shown that he is not an impartial guarantor for our highest democratic institutions and can no longer represent us .”

“For this reason I asked the more than 160 mayors of the Lega in Lombardy to remove the photo of Mattarella from their offices.

For those who have not been paying attention, The Associated Press offers a quick 4 point explanation of Italy’s political pandemonium. . . . Click article title to continue reading.

Italy – The Beginning of the End of the European Union – by Debs is Dead, at Moon of Alabama

CORRECTION . . . The first article is about Australia and the second article is about Austria. I misread the titles and thought they were both about Austria . . . Sorry for my mistake! ~J

‘US has become unreliable’: Australian chancellor questions Washington’s commitment to EU

. .. seems like good news, but . . . 

Austria’s New Coalition Betrays on CETA Trade Agreement, by F. William Engdahl

US President Trump told the world his government rejects negotiations on the highly controversial TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Citizen groups and EU opponents of the Obama comprehensive trade agreement breathed a sigh of relief. Too little attention has been given to the agreement reached between Canada and CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (German: Umfassendes Wirtschafts- und Handelsabkommen), sometimes called the Canada-EU Trade Agreement. Secretly and behind any public open discussion, the largest global multinational corporations are moving the world closer to a top-down corporate dictatorship, a 21st Century version of Mussolini’s Corporativism. A major potential roadblock to CETA approval has now fallen in Austria under a new populist coalition government of Sebastian Kurz.

Legally the CETA must be approved by the national parliaments in a majority of the 28 EU member states before becoming operative. Now it comes out that Sebastian Kurz’s populist Austrian coalition, after campaigning on a platform of NO to CETA and TTIP, secretly agreed late in 2017 to renege on their election campaign promises opposing CETA as a precondition for the refugee-critical conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) of Sebastian Kurz as Chancellor, to be able to form a coalition government with the right populist FPÖ. It represents a major betrayal of Austrian voters as well as of the future of EU sovereign national laws on environment, health and safety. But it gets worse.

In terms of the legitimacy of the Austrian elections in October 2017, the coalition FPÖ party campaigned hard against any acceptance of the multinational CETA trade deal. It promised a Swiss-style “direct democracy” referendum process of citizen vote on issues where a substantial number of citizen petitions warranted such. In their election campaign the FPÖ promised repeatedly such slogans as ”with us no CETA” and “…CETA only with a peoples’ referendum.”

Pre-election polls showed that 72% of Austrians opposed both the TTIP and the closely-related CETA on grounds it would damage Austrian small and mid-size businesses to the advantage of global multinationals. Citizen groups gathered an impressive 562,000 signatures opposing both CETA and TTIP before the election.

Only days following the election, on November 21, 2017, the FPÖ showed signs of retracting that opposition when they surprised voters and voted in Parliament in favor of the CETA’s most controversial proviso, the so-called the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism (German: Investitionsschiedsgerichten). That ISDS proviso allows Canadian corporations sue any EU government over any new law or policy that might reduce their profits in future such as a new German minimum wage law or stricter laws prohibiting toxic chemicals such as glyphosate or neonicotinoids. However, the Canadian company or investor in say, Germany, does not sue in a German court. They rather go to a special secret arbitration tribunal over which the EU state has no control. Opposition to the ISDS was a central platform of the Austrian FPÖ campaign before October 15. Most USA large corporations have subsidiary companies in Canada meaning CETA is a backdoor for the now-frozen TTIP with the USA.

Forcing EU states to dilute laws

Among its provisions, under CETA as under TTIP if there is a difference in rigor for example in the environmental or safety and health standards for EU states and the Canadian rules, the lowest standard (North American) applies. The Canadian government has largely followed US loose corporate regulations in recent years and this under CETA now would threaten a diminishing of EU strict regulations. According to an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy . . . Click article title to continue reading. 

Soros: EU is in ‘Existential Danger’, US Policies Risk Global Financial Crisis

Globalist billionaire George Soros has openly backed pro-EU groups in a bid to hinder the UK’s withdrawal from the EU as part of his broader strategy to gain further influence throughout Europe to pursue his political and economic goals. He also has other pro-EU interests, and has been accused of meddling in Hungary’s internal affairs.

Related: Hungarian deputy PM warns ‘Islamic invasion’ will reduce Europeans to ‘minority in our own continent’ 

Russia is winning big in US gas war in Europe 

[…]

Now, however, Trump and US LNG exporters will have an even harder time convincing key EU members to offset over reliance on Russian piped gas with US LNG.

Last week, Gazprom, the world’s largest gas producer, and the European Commission resolved a seven-year anti-trust dispute after the Russian state-controlled energy giant agreed to change its operations in central and Eastern Europe.

Per terms of the deal that was reached on Thursday, Gazprom will be banned from imposing restrictions on how its customers in central and Eastern Europe use gas. Meanwhile, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia will no longer be banned from exporting gas to another country. 

These countries originally sought to remedy over pricing problems for Russian gas. Going forward, customers in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have the right to demand a price in line with those in Germany and the Netherlands. 

The deal has teeth since these customers can take their complaints to an EU arbitration body if Gazprom fails to live up to terms of the new settlement. 

Russian victory

It’s a win situation for Gazprom since its agreement avoids billions of dollars in penalties that could have been levied by the European Commission; while it also helps the firm solidify its hold on European gas markets.

It’s also a victory for Russia overall which has seen several LNG players, notably Qatar and the US, vie for market share at the expense of Russian gas producers. Even before the Gazprom deal, it would have been hard for US producers to take significant market share in Europe away from Russia, mostly due to pure energy economics.

Commodities data provider S&P Platts Global said on May 11 that US LNG was still a rare visitor to European shores despite low LNG stocks – especially in northwest Europe – and high European hub prices. Just three US LNG cargoes have landed in Europe since the turn of the year. 

Simply put, Russian pipeline gas is already a cheaper commodity for EU end users than imported US-sourced LNG since liquefaction and transportation charges have to be added. However, US LNG since is indexed to Henry Hub gas prices on the NYMEX it’s considerably lower than other LNG producers that want to enter Europe since most other LNG cargoes have a higher cost oil-price indexation formula. 

The European Commission finding also comes as Washington turns up the heat on the EU to scrap Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that could be operational as early as the end of next year. 

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been a source of contention for over a year, pitting the US and a small number of European countries, including Poland, the Ukraine, Lithuania and others, on one side against Russia and other major EU members, led by Germany. 

Nord Stream 2 includes a 759 mile (1,222 km) natural gas pipeline running on the bed of the Baltic Sea from Russian gas fields to Germany. It would double the existing Nord Stream pipeline’s current annual capacity of 55 bcm and is expected to become operational by the end of next year.

Former-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in January that the pipeline is “not a healthy piece of infrastructure” for Europe’s energy stability. Germany, for its part, has pushed back against this claim as has Russia who stands the most to lose if the pipeline project is not completed. 

Sandra Oudkirk, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy diplomacy, said two weeks ago the US is worried the pipeline could open ways for Russia to install undersea surveillance equipment in the Baltic Sea. . . . Click article title to continue reading.

ABC Cancels The “Roseanne” Show After Twitter Meltdown . . . sadly, with all that is clearly going on in the world,this is the news we get from the from the US.

 * * * 

The Indo-Pacific’s Changing Political Landscape, Vladimir Terekhov. . . the full article included — much to learn here — and, yes, it’s complicated, but very interesting 🙂

USJSK324234234

Several noteworthy events, which have occurred in the past few weeks, bear witness to the continuing changes in the Indo-Pacific region’s political map.

This process was long in the making, but its pace increased substantially after the election of Donald Trump as the US President, whose key campaign slogan, “America first,” is often misinterpreted as confirmation and even reinforcement of Washington’s old ambitions to single-handedly dominate global politics and the world economy.

The slogan most likely reflected an actual wish, expressed by Americans, to limit the US involvement in world squabbles and to focus instead on resolving an ever increasing number of internal problems. Those who express such views are “neo-isolationists,” who support the US return to its original premise of their country being viewed “as a city upon a hill,” which leads the world by example.

The “neo-isolationists” think, with good reason, that their country (despite its short history) possesses enough positive energy to be worthy of display during the “projects in governance” fair.

On the contrary, their ideologic opponents and political adversaries known as “neo-conservatives” (essentially descendants of Trotskyism), view the USA as a stronghold, whose aim is to spread transatlantic values by force. Incidentally, these values bear no resemblance to Europe’s real values.

At first, Trump’s election victory caused “neo-conservatives” to panic, as some of them attempted to solve the problem of “how to reach the Canadian border as quickly as possible.” They subsequently changed their mind by remaining in the US and seemingly restoring their influence on the country’s foreign policy decisions.

Only such a scenario could explain the contradictory messages originating in Washington. Information about their military withdrawal from the Middle East and their readiness to do so, in principle, on the Korean Peninsula suddenly began circulating. However, several days later, the President announced that these issues are viewed differently by means of his “diplomacy via Twitter.”

Still the somewhat “neo-isolationist” stance of the country, which remains one of the foundations of the current world order, naturally began making headway faster in all of its directions. This explains the growing importance of The Indo-Pacific, where any significant changes are generated by a game of politics, whose main participants are the USA, China, Japan and India.

The latest noticeable game maneuvers include an unplanned informal meeting between the leaders of India and China in Wuhan, the revival of the project to establish a tripartite free trade zone involving PRC, Japan and South Korea, and the Sino-US negotiations dealing with their bilateral commercial and economic relations. All three events happened within the space of two weeks (from the end of April to the middle of May).

During the same time period negotiations between the South Korean and DPRK leaders took place in Panmunjom, which can be viewed as an interim step, taken by second-rate players, in the local game on the Korean Peninsula. The main participants (the USA and China) are in their “unveiling stage” as they become directly involved in the game.

We have previously addressed various aspects of the meeting between Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping held on 27-28 April in Wuhan. Discussion about these talks continue in PRC as well as India. Familiar imagery is used when asking the ever relevant key question “Will the dragon and the elephant dance the tango?” If the positive trends in the relationship between the two Asian giants, set in Wuhan, were to continue, they could influence the overall nature and direction of the game involving The Indo-Pacific.

In such a scenario, the US idea to create an anti-Chinese coalition of the “Four,” with India as its key member, would be futile.

However, it is far from sensible to underestimate the problems that this positive trend in the Sino-Indian relationship faces. Aside from territorial disputes, the tensions in relations between India and the Chinese ally, Pakistan remain one of the key issues.

Nevertheless, there are attempts to find a glimmer of hope in the conflict between India and Pakistan. This search is spurred on by the improving situation on the Korean Peninsula.

There is a possibility that political relations between China and another potential member of the “Four,” Japan, improve. The main stimulus in this case is not only Beijing’s overtures of friendship towards Tokyo (as well as towards New Delhi), but also Japan’s commercial and economic problems with its key ally, the USA.

Washington and Tokyo (the first and third largest economies in the world) continue to drift apart over their differences in views on the developmental prospects of global economic ties. Trump’s administration (quite in the spirit of “America first”) aims to resolve problems in the context of bilateral relations with the world. Abe’s administration, on the other hand, views Japan as a participant in multilateral economic arrangements.

China can relate to such a view, as it has taken over Washington’s role of spearheading globalization. Chinese attempts to revive the tripartite free trade zone project involving PRC, Japan and South Korea as well as bilateral Sino-Japanese official meetings are quite noteworthy.

Hence the meeting between China’s Prime Minister and South Korea’s President which took place in Tokyo from 9 to 11 of May. This official visit to Japan by such high-ranking Chinese and South Korean dignitaries was the first of its kind in 8 years. An intention to support the creation of two free trade zones, one for PRC, Japan and South Korea and the other for the 10 Oceania countries as well as PRC, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand was voiced at the meeting.

As far as the Sino-Japanese summit is concerned, the participants agreed to establish an expert commission to study the New Silk Road project and open communication channels between the military bodies involved in order to avoid misunderstandings in the air or at sea.

Participants at the Tokyo negotiations stayed within limits drawn by their mutual distaste towards protectionism and commitment to globalization of the world economy.

The positive trends, set in Wuhan and Tokyo, are especially noticeable when viewed in the context of the stalled decisions aimed at resolving various commercial and economic problems between the US and PRC. Such attempts were made during the meeting between the US envoy and their Chinese counterparts, held in Beijing on 3-4 May. The Washington Post noted that the talks ended in an exchange of hard-line (and barely fulfillable) terms.

The current US administration remains an official culprit responsible for initiating the trade war (not only with its main geopolitical opponent but also with key allies in Europe and Asia).

Still, it is important to remember that, over the years, Washington’s motive for implementing protective measures against not only China but even its expensive allies grew. Together these countries outcompete the world leader in trade by a significant amount of $800 billion each year,  with China’s share equaling $370 billion. This long-term negative tendency is the chief explanation as to why Trump armed himself with the slogan “America first.”

However, this does not mean that the US President’s approach to resolving the problems in US relations with external partners is uncompromising. The setbacks in Sino-American negotiations in Beijing are most likely not indicative of their complete failure,  as the economic interests of these leading nations are deeply intertwined.

All the aforementioned events in The Indo-Pacific demonstrate that the global player’s allies and opponents are starting to adjust to the new realities in response to America’s “neo-isolationist” message. Still, this message is not clearly formulated and contradicts Trump’s intention to insure the US possesses military potential of global proportions.

Perhaps the current president is not at all concerned about the contradictory nature of his underlying ideas, since behind the focus on military build-up still lies the aim of solving internal problems. After all, the military industrial complex is one the main employers in the US.

Then again, from the author’s point of view, the latest events in The Indo-Pacific hint at first signs of a reciprocal message being formulated by Asia to Washington, stating  “Fellows! Wouldn’t you agree that the time has come to take back your military toys and join our economic projects? There are many interesting things in your “city upon a hill.” But, sadly, it’s not your positive energy that you’re trying to impose on us using weapons.”

Such a message will probably be received by many in the US favorably.

Vladimir Terekhov, expert on the Asia-Pacific region issues, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

India not bowing to US pressure, will continue doing business with Russia, Iran, Venezuela despite sanctions

Peace on Korean Peninsula Is the Last Thing Washington Wants, by John Wight

The peace process underway on the Korean Peninsula is taking place in spite of Washington and not because. Indeed given the military-strategic importance of South Korea to Washington’s driving objective of full spectrum dominance, peace and reconciliation between North and South are about the last thing the Empire wants. . . . Click article title to contineu reading. 

 * * *

Pompeo held secret meeting with Palestinian Authority weeks before US Embassy opening in Jerusalem

[…]

While the talks come as a surprise since the Palestinian Authority had decided to boycott the Trump administration after the president recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the same source told Haaretz that the two parties are proceeding with all-encompassing security negotiations. 

The United States is expected to present its vision of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord at the end of June after several delays. According to the media outlet, the White House will try to synchronize the presentation of what the US president has famously called the “ultimate deal” with a plan for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. 

Majid Faraj’s talks with Pompeo last month are viewed as part of close ties between the two, which reportedly evolved after Faraj helped arrange a visit for the former CIA chief to the Palestinian city of Ramallah last winter. 

As the official explained to Haaretz, both Washington and Tel Aviv are looking at the Palestinian issue from a national security perspective, therefore it was essential for Faraj, who’s considered to be close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to meet Pompeo before his swearing-in as Secretary of State. 

The meeting between the two intelligence chiefs took place at a time when the Palestinian president was hospitalized, and his health was in the limelight in both the US and the Middle East, which, according to Haaretz, could mean Washington’s trying to guarantee stability on the Palestinian side after Abbas exits the political scene. Click article title to continue reading.

Lebanon starts offshore oil and gas exploration, defying Israel

. . . even if we don’t read the next stories, the hypocrisy in the various titles screams at us, or at me, anyway . . .

Gaza boat carrying wounded Palestinians trying to break the blockade intercepted by IDF navy

Israel strikes over 30 targets in Gaza Strip

UN concerned over detained Saudi activists, missing prince

Syria takes rotating presidency of UN conference in Geneva, US protests

Syria Recognizes Independence of Abkhazia, S Ossetia

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Syria has recognized the independence of Abkhazia and decided to establish diplomatic relations with the republic, Abkhazia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

“The Republic of Abkhazia and the Syrian Arab Republic declare mutual recognition and establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries at the level of embassies, which reflects their mutual desire to develop relations in all areas,” the ministry’s statement read.

South Ossetia’s Foreign Ministry, also on Tuesday released a statement, announcing that Syria and South Ossetia had also declared mutual recognition and agreed to establish diplomatic relations at the level of embassies, “seeking comprehensive political, economic and cultural cooperation and interaction between the two countries for the benefit of their people.”

“We are in active contact with Syria’s Foreign Ministry and its embassy in Moscow. As today’s communique read, the relations between our states will be [developing] on the level of embassies. This means that we will consider the issue of opening diplomatic missions in Tskhinvali and Damascus,” South Ossetian Foreign Minister Dmitrii Medoev told Sputnik.

Georgia’s Response

In reply to this move, Tbilisi has launched a procedure for suspending diplomatic ties with Damascus over recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister David Dondua said on Tuesday.

“Georgia has launched the procedure to suspend diplomatic ties with Syria. I would like to note that the international community firmly supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia and the policy of non-recognition of the occupied territories,” Dondua told a briefing. . . . Click article title to continue reading.

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