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Mexico urges Trump to back down on ‘unfair’ tariff threat

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Mexico urges Trump to back down on 'unfair' tariff threat

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s president on Friday urged his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump to back down from threats to impose tariffs on its exports to the United States, in a dispute over migration that could create a major economic shock for Mexico.

Trump said he will introduce punitive tariffs on June 10 if Mexico does not halt the flow of illegal immigration from Central America to the United States, battering Mexican financial assets and hurting stocks worldwide. [L2N237053]

The ultimatum from Trump is the biggest foreign policy test to date for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who during his six months in power has consistently sought to deflect the U.S. president’s barbs and avoid embroiling himself in a confrontation.

“I tell all Mexicans to have faith, we will overcome this attitude of the U.S. government, they will make rectifications because the Mexican people don’t deserve to be treated in the way being attempted,” Lopez Obrador told reporters at his regular morning news conference.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an influential business lobbying group, is looking at ways to challenge Trump’s move, including legal options, an official with the organization said on Friday.

Lopez Obrador said he believed Trump would understand that tariffs were not the way to resolve the matter, but urged Mexicans to unite around his government to face the challenge.

Trump said on Thursday he would ratchet up tariffs unless Mexico stopped people from illegally crossing into the United States. The plan would impose a 5% tariff on Mexican imports starting on June 10 and increase monthly, up to 25% on Oct. 1.

Such a plan would deliver a heavy blow to Mexico’s economy, which relies heavily on exports to the United States of goods from avocados and tequila to televisions and cars made by companies such as Ford and Nissan. Mexico sends around 80 percent of its exports to the United States.

Mexico’s main stock index fell more than 2% after opening on Friday, and the peso currency was down 3% against the dollar.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Twitter called the treatment of Mexico “unfair” and said it made “no economic sense for anyone.”

Trump, who is already in a trade war with China, sought to turn up the pressure on Mexico again on Friday.

“Mexico makes a FORTUNE from the U.S., have for decades, they can easily fix this problem. Time for them to finally do what must be done!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro said he believed Mexico would respond “very favorably and very quickly”.

Ebrard is to travel to Washington to work on convincing the U.S. government that Trump’s measures were in neither country’s interest, and show that Mexico was making progress containing migration, Lopez Obrador said.

Pledging to exercise “great prudence” in seeking a resolution to the dispute, the Mexican president said he did not want to involve the World Trade Organization for now.

Since taking office in December, Lopez Obrador has urged Trump to help him tackle migration by promoting economic development in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where most of the migrants apprehended on the U.S. border come from.

A veteran leftist who won a landslide election victory in July 2018, Lopez Obrador has shied away from foreign policy entanglements, preferring to leave diplomacy to Ebrard.

Though Lopez Obrador again stressed the need for diplomacy on Friday, he has in the past offered pointed criticism of Trump over migration policy. He was adamant that he had the support of Mexicans living both in Mexico and the United States.

Lopez Obrador in early 2017 likened Trump’s attitude toward migrants to Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

In a letter responding to Trump’s announcement on Thursday, Lopez Obrador called Trump’s policy of America First “a fallacy” and accused him of turning the United States into a “ghetto” that stigmatized and mistreated migrants.

U.S. officials say the immigration system is being overwhelmed by thousands of migrants, many of whom turn themselves over to border officials to claim asylum in the United States. Border facilities are straining to handle large numbers of people and many children.

At least six migrant children have died in U.S. custody or shortly after being released. Apprehensions of migrants on the southwest border hit another record high last month, with 98,977 people arrested.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher in Mexico City, Andrea Shalal and Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Susan Thomas and Alistair Bell

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Trump reassures Tokyo he will stick with security pact: Japan government

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Trump reassures Tokyo he will stick with security pact: Japan government

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday reassured Japan he was committed to a military treaty that both nations have described as a cornerstone of security in Asia, after a media report said he had spoken privately about withdrawing from the pact.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during delivering a speech to Japanese and U.S. troops as they aboard Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) helicopter carrier DDH-184 Kaga at JMSDF Yokosuka base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan, May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

Citing unidentified sources, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Trump had discussed ending the pact which he believed is one-sided because it obligated the United States to defend Japan if attacked but did not require Tokyo to respond in kind.

The report said Trump was also unhappy with plans to relocate the U.S. base on Japan’s Okinawa island.

“The thing reported in the media you mentioned does not exist,” chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo when asked about the report.

“We have received confirmation from the U.S. president it is incompatible with the U.S. government policy,” he added.

Under the security agreement, the United States has committed to defend Japan, which renounced the right to wage war after its defeat in World War Two.

Japan in return provides military bases that Washington uses to project power deep into Asia, including the biggest concentration of U.S. Marines outside the United States on Okinawa, and the forward deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group at the Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo.

Ending the pact, which also puts Japan under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, could force Washington to withdraw a major portion of its military forces from Asia at a time when China’s military power is growing.

It would also force Japan to seek new alliances in the region and bolster its own defenses, which in turn could raise concern about nuclear proliferation in the already tense region.

Washington’s close ties to Tokyo have also benefited U.S. military contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp and Raytheon Co, which have sold billions of dollars of equipment to Japan’s Self Defense Forces.

On a visit to Japan in May, Trump said he expected Japan’s military to reinforce U.S. forces throughout Asia and elsewhere as Tokyo bolsters the ability of its forces to operate further from its shores.

Part of that military upgrade includes a commitment by Japan to buy 97 F-35 stealth fighters, including some short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL)B variants worth more than $8 billion.

Japan says it eventually wants to field a force of around 150 of the advanced fighter jets, the biggest outside the U.S. military, as it tries to keep ahead of China’s advances in military technology.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; writing by Tim Kelly; editing by Darren Schuettler

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U.S. president confirms no withdrawal from security pact: Japan

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s top government spokesman said on Tuesday the United States has confirmed its defense treaty with Japan after a report suggested U.S. President Donald Trump considered withdrawing from the pact.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that Trump has recently spoken privately about withdrawing from the treaty as he is of the view that the pact treated the United States unfairly.

“The thing reported in the media you mentioned does not exist,” Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo.

“We have received confirmation from the U.S. president it is incompatible with the U.S. government policy,” he added.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; editing by Darren Schuettler

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Winning ugly? Media hit Trump style over Iran, but sometimes it works

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Winning ugly? Media hit Trump style over Iran, but sometimes it works

It’s a headline that captures the establishment’s disdain for the president’s unorthodox style of governing.

“Trump’s Erratic Policy Moves Put National Security at Risk, Experts Warn,” says The Washington Post.

Never mind that the first three critics quoted — after a defense from Mike Pence on CNN — were Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

The other “experts” were two professors who were mildly critical and a lawyer who was supportive of Trump.

But the piece does get at a central question about this president in the wake of the aborted airstrikes against Iran, which he called off with 10 minutes to spare.

Does Trump preside over a messy and sometimes chaotic process? Of course. But sometimes that style gets results.

On Iran, for instance, many liberals liked that he pulled back on bombing over the downing of an unmanned drone, even as they say he extinguished a fire that he had started. (Maureen Dowd: “As shocking as it is to write this sentence, it must be said: Donald Trump did something right.”)

TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER DELIVERING ‘HARD-HITTING’ SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN

In negotiations, the president often makes a dramatic demand or threat, sparking a media and diplomatic furor over whether this time he’s gone too far — then hammers out a compromise and claims victory. It’s the style of a blustery New York real estate developer who’s always one minute from walking away from the table, transferred to the staid, tradition-bound world of Washington.

Over the weekend, Trump called off a wave of ICE arrests that was to begin on Sunday, which he said would begin deportations of “millions” of illegal immigrants. That set off the predictable uproar.

Trump, after a reported call with Nancy Pelosi, said he was delaying the arrests for two weeks to allow time for negotiations with the Democrats. Nobody seems to think a deal can be struck in so short a period, but Trump won points with his base by threatening the mass arrests and again drove the news agenda.

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The Post’s take: “Three policy turnarounds by President Trump this month have underscored his freewheeling governing style, an approach that some experts warn sends mixed messages and puts U.S. national security at risk …

“The results of Trump’s strategy on policy have been mixed at best — and few issues offer as complete a picture of the president’s habitual brinkmanship as his effort to overhaul U.S. trade policy.”

Remember when Trump threatened to close the Mexican border? The Beltway went ballistic. He didn’t.

PELOSI SAYS ‘VIOLATION OF STATUS’ NOT A REASON TO DEPORT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Then he threatened to slap tariffs on all Mexican products, beginning at 5 percent, if the country didn’t crack down on migrants fleeing Central America for the U.S. border. Lo and behold, Trump got a last-minute agreement. It’s hard to judge how concrete these steps are, and The New York Times said most of them had been previously agreed to, but the perception — or perhaps the reality — is that he got Mexico to move.

Trump even used the tough-talk tactics against Canada before finally hammering out a trade deal. Whether the tariffs imposed on China ultimately lead to an agreement is another question.

The point is that while Trump’s approach horrifies the traditionalists, he rarely carries out the well-publicized threats.

I see a link between the zig-zagging negotiating style and the repeated failures of Trump’s vetting operation. Rather than wait for full-fledged inquiries and background checks, the president announces who he wants to nominate — and often has to pull back.

That was painfully on display when acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan had to withdraw over a violent family past that would have made clear he would be impossible to confirm. The same was true when the president had to drop his planned nominees to the Fed, Herman Cain and Steve Moore.

Axios obtained nearly 100 Trump transition vetting documents that clearly show the RNC and others were overwhelmed in trying to check on potential nominees. The documents show that ethical and management questions were raised about Scott Pruitt and Tom Price, who later had to resign their posts at EPA and HHS.

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As president, Trump has far more resources available to vet nominees, yet still rushes to name them before any real investigation.

This president isn’t going to win any awards for a tidy management process. But when it comes to military action and trade talks, he sometimes wins ugly.

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