“I regret the announcement by the United States to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. The Treaty on Open Skies is a key element of our arms-control architecture and serves as a vital confidence and security-building measure” says the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on the announcement by the US on their withdrawal from the Open Sky Treaty.
“Since it came into force in 2002, this agreement has enabled to carry out more than 1.500 reconnaissance missions over the territories of all the signatory states.The treaty provides transparency and predictability. It is an important contribution to European and global security and stability. All State parties must continue to acknowledge this and ensure the full implementation of the Treaty. Withdrawing from a Treaty is not the solution to address difficulties in its implementation and compliance by another party. While continuing to urge Russia to return immediately to the full implementation of the Treaty, I call upon the United States to reconsider their decision.The European Union will be examining the implications this decision may have for its own security”.
Moscow rejects the United States’ ultimatums concerning the Treaty on Open Skies, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on May 22, following Washington’s decision to withdraw .
The Ministry noted that US officials say Washington may revise its decision on the withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty if Russia implements all of its demands in the coming months.
“It is an ultimatum and this is not the right groundwork for negotiations,” the ministry underlined.
Signed on March 24, 1992, the Open Skies Treaty permits each state-party to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the others’ entire territories to collect data on military forces and activities. Observation aircraft used to fly the missions must be equipped with sensors that enable the observing party to identify significant military equipment, such as artillery, fighter aircraft, and armored combat vehicles.
Though satellites can provide the same, and even more detailed, information, not all of the 34 treaty states-parties1 have such capabilities. The treaty is also aimed at building confidence and familiarity among states-parties through their participation in the overflights.
“The Corona virus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.
The European Union disapproves of the fact that the US decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation.
The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus” said in a joint statement presidents Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen with the Croatian Presidency, reacting on US travel ban related to COVID-19.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree promising to release 1,500 prisoners belonging to Taliban as a goodwill gesture to get intra-Afghan negotiations started. (Image: social media)
A recent peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban called for the release of up to 5,000 prisoners as precondition of the negotiations.
There was no official response from the Taliban, but the Associated Press news agency claims they saw a letter that Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, the head of the Taliban’s Prisoners Commission, sent to the prisoners, their families and Taliban leaders promising there would be no intra-Afghan talks until all the prisoners are released.
In a letter, sent around last weekend, President Ghani wrote that Taliban would verify that each prisoner released is among those on the list given to an American delegation.
The first round of 1,500 prisoners will be selected based on age, health and the length of their sentences already served. Each released Talib will be biometrically identified, and obliged to sign a written guarantee that they will not return to the battlefield. Taken in condiseration that the majority of them are illiterate, highly likelty that they will use ink to make an fingerpirnt on the document.
The remaining 3,500 prisoners will be released after intra-Afghan negotiations start and 500 will be released every two weeks providing the Taliban reduce violence on the battlefield, Ghani’s decree said.
NATO Ambassadors met on 6 January 2019 in Brussels headquaters to address current tensions in the Middle East and implications for NATO’s training mission in Iraq.
“…Allies expressed their strong support for the fight against ISIS and for the NATO mission in Iraq. In everything that we do, the safety of our personnel is paramount. As such, we have temporarily suspended our training on the ground,” – Jens Stolenberg said.
“Allies called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no one’s interest. So Iran must refrain from further violence and provocation” he added.
Speaking after the meeting of NATO’s North Atlantic Council, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the safety of NATO’s personnel in Iraq is paramount and that the Alliance had temporarily suspended training activities on the ground. He added that NATO was prepared to continue training and capacity-building when the situation permits, emphasizing that the Alliance remains strongly committed to the fight against international terrorism, namely Daech in Middle East.
“The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped before it spirals out of control. The EU calls on all the actors involved and on those partners who can have an influence to exercise maximum restraint and show responsibility in this crucial moment. Another crisis risks jeopardizing years of efforts to stabilise Iraq. Furthermore, the ongoing escalation threatens the whole region, which has suffered immensely and whose populations deserve life in peace” says the statement of the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell (Pictured).
“More dialogue and efforts to enhance mutual understanding are necessary to offer long term solutions to the stabilisation of the Middle East. The EU stands ready to continue its engagement with all sides in order to contribute to defusing tensions and reverse the dynamics of the conflict.”
Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter page that he spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif about recent developments in Iraq, underlining the need for de-escalation of tensions, to exercise restraint and avoid further escalation. The diplomats have also discussed importance of preserving JCPOA, which remains “crucial for global security“.
“I am committed to role as coordinator” Borrell confirmed.
Top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani was assassinated on December 3 in a US pointed strike on Baghdad’s international airport in a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries.
President Trump ordered an airstrike, assassinating Iran’s most powerful general in the early hours on December 3, in a dramatic escalation of power struggle between Washington and Tehran for influence across Middle Est.
Qassem Suleimani was hit by the drone strike while local allies from the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU) drove him from Baghdad airport. The de facto leader of the PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a close Suleimani associate, was also killed in the attack.
General Suleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,” a Pentagon statement announced. “This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”
The White House has issued a statement saying the strike was a “decisive defensive action” carried out “at the direction of the president”.
Vladimir Putin called to Donald Trump to thank him for what White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said was “information the United States provided that helped foil a potential holiday terrorist attack in Russia.”
No details were provided, but Moscow announced it had thwarted attacks reportedly planned in St. Petersburg thanks to the information from Washington.
American and Russian Presidents discussed the state of relations between their two countries in a phone call instigated by Putin, the White House said.
“President Putin of Russia called to thank me and the U.S. for informing them of a planned terrorist attack in the very beautiful city of Saint Petersburg. They were able to quickly apprehend the suspects, with many lives being saved. Great and important coordination!” President Trump wrote in his Twitter micro blog.