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At UN, a world stage for disputes often out of the spotlight
By JENNIFER PELTZ | Sat, September 28, 2019 09:29 EDT
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Middle East. Trade tensions. Iran’s nuclear program. Venezuela’s power struggle. Civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Familiar flash points such as these got plenty of airtime at the U.N. General Assembly’s big annual gathering this week.
But some leaders used their time on the world stage to highlight international conflicts and disputes that don’t usually command the same global attention.
A look at some of the less-discussed controversies trying to be heard:
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan landed one of the coveted first few speaking slots, and he devoted a bit of his wide-ranging speech to a clash in the Caucasus: a standoff between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The mountainous, ethnic Armenian area of about 150,000 people is recognized as part of Azerbaijan in U.N. Security Council resolutions dating to the 1990s. But Nagorno-Karabakh and some neighboring districts have been under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces, backed by Armenia, since a six-year separatist war ended in 1994.
Both Azerbaijan and Turkey have closed their borders with Armenia because of the conflict, cutting trade and leaving Armenia with direct land access only to Georgia and Iran.
Russia, the U.S. and France have co-chaired the so-called Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, attempting to broker an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
At the General Assembly, Armenia and Azerbaijan accused one another of obstructing the path toward a peaceful settlement.
“No progress has been achieved” in the past year, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said Saturday, blaming “the apparent lack of genuine interest” on the Armenian side.
Days earlier, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian complained that Azerbaijan’s leaders “don’t want to seek any compromise.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ “state of the world” address was largely a grim one , but he pointed to a few matters moving “in promising directions” — among them relations between Greece and the new Republic of North Macedonia.
Greece and what the U.N. cumbersomely used to call the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” sparred for nearly three decades over the latter’s name. It was adopted when the nation, which has a current population of about 2.1 million, declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.
Greece said the use of “Macedonia” implied territorial claims on its own northern province of the same name and its ancient Greek heritage, not least as the birthplace of ancient warrior king Alexander the Great. Athens blocked its Balkan neighbor’s path to NATO and EU membership over the nomenclature clash.
It became “infamous as a difficult and irresolvable problem,” in the words of now-North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.
Repeated rounds of U.N.-mediated negotiations proved fruitless until June 2018, when the Skopje government agreed to change the country’s name to North Macedonia. The switch took effect this February.
European Council President Donald Tusk said this month that North Macedonia is now ready to start EU membership talks. It expects to become the 30th NATO member soon.
The deal has been contentious within both countries, though, with critics accusing their governments of giving up too much. Regardless, North Macedonia’s prime minister highlighted it with pride from the world’s premier diplomatic podium.
“We can see nothing but benefits from settling the difference,” Zaev said, calling it “an example for overcoming difficult deadlocks worldwide.”
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis didn’t dilate on the deal, saying only that his country supports EU bids by all the western Balkan countries if they respect their obligations to the EU and their neighbors.
A mostly desert expanse along the northwest coast of Africa, Western Sahara has been a center of friction between Morocco and Algeria for almost half a century.
Morocco annexed the phosphate- and fishing-rich former Spanish colony in 1975, then fought the Algerian-backed Polisario Front independence movement until 1991, when the U.N. brokered a cease-fire and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor the truce and facilitate a referendum on the territory’s future.
The vote has never happened. Morocco has proposed wide-ranging autonomy for Western Sahara, while the Polisario Front insists that Western Sahara’s Sahrawi people — a population the independence movement estimates at 350,000 to 500,000 — have the right to a referendum.
Last year, the U.N. Security Council called for stepping up efforts to reach a solution to the dispute.
A U.N. envoy brought representatives of Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria and neighboring Mauritania together last December for the first time in six years, followed by a second meeting in March. But the issue of how to provide for self-determination remains a key sticking point.
The envoy, former German President Horst Kohler, resigned in May for health reasons.
At the General Assembly, Moroccan Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani said his country’s autonomy proposal “is the solution,” while Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum reiterated hopes for Western Sahara residents “to be able to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination.”
A U.N.-controlled buffer zone that cuts across the city of Nicosia evinces a fraught distinction: Cyprus is the last European country to have a divided capital.
After 45 years, could that finally change? There’s “a glimmer of hope,” Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades told to the assembly.
The eastern Mediterranean island has been split into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of uniting the island with Greece. Turkey continues to maintain more than 35,000 troops in the northern third of the island, which only Turkey recognizes as an independent state. The U.N. also has a peacekeeping force in Cyprus.
Tensions have ticked up lately, particularly over natural gas exploration in waters in the internationally recognized state’s exclusive economic zone. Turkey is also drilling there, saying it’s defending Turkish Cypriots’ rights to energy reserves.
On-and-off talks about reunification have spanned decades.
Greek Cypriots have rejected Turkish Cypriots’ demands for a permanent Turkish troop presence and veto power in government decisions in a future federated Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots, meanwhile, want parity in federal decision-making, believing they would otherwise be relegated to junior partners to the majority Greek Cypriots.
A U.N. envoy made a shuttle-diplomacy effort in recent weeks in hopes of paving the way for formal talks, and Anastasiades suggested in his General Assembly speech there was some agreement on starting points for potential discussion. But he also complained that Turkey’s drilling and other activities “severely undermine” the prospect of negotiations.
Turkey’s Erdogan, meanwhile, complained about “the uncompromising position” of the Greek Cypriots.
It’s been a big year in a centuries-old argument between Belize and Guatemala.
Guatemala claims more than 4,000 square miles (10,350 square kilometers) of terrain administered by Belize — essentially the southern half of Belize. It’s an area of nature reserves, scattered farming villages and fishing towns, and some Caribbean beach tourism destinations.
The dispute’s roots stretch to the 19th century, when Britain controlled Belize and Spain ruled Guatemala.
Guatemala, which became independent in 1821, argues that it inherited a Spanish claim on the territory. Belize considers Guatemala’s claim unfounded and says the borders were defined by an 1859 agreement between Guatemala and Britain (Belize remained a British colony until 1981).
The land spat has strained diplomatic relations and at times even affected air travel between the two Central American countries.
Belize and Guatemala agreed in 2008 to ask the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, for a binding ruling. Guatemalans voters gave their assent to the plan in a referendum last year, and Belizeans gave their approval this May.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales celebrated the developments in his General Assembly speech.
“This is a milestone for Guatemala, for Central America and for the world,” he said, emphasizing the peaceful process toward resolving the disagreement. “Currently, bilateral relations between Guatemala and Belize are the best they’ve ever been.”
Belizean Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington told the assembly Saturday that his country also looked forward to resolving “an age-old, atavistic claim that has hindered Belize’s development” and undercut friendship between the countries.
“We in Belize certainly have the most fervent wish to live side by side with the government and people of Guatemala in peace, harmony and close cooperation,” Elrington said.
But he said Belize remains concerned about various alleged activities by Guatemalan troops and citizens — drawing a bristling reply from Guatemala, which rejects those claims and said they belong in the court, not the big-picture U.N. gathering.
Jennifer Peltz is covering the U.N. General Assembly for The Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter at @jennpeltz.
EarthLink – News
Syria demands withdrawal of all American, Turkish forces
By AYA BATRAWY and EDITH M. LEDERER | Sat, September 28, 2019 02:58 EDT
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Syria’s top diplomat on Saturday demanded the immediate withdrawal of American and Turkish forces from the country and said his government reserves the right to defend its territory in any way necessary if they remain.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem’s remarks to the United Nations General Assembly were made as Turkey and the United States press ahead with a deal to create a safe zone along Syria’s border with Turkey.
On the political front, he reaffirmed the government’s support for the recently agreed committee to draft a new constitution for the country. As has been the government’s tone since the start of the 2011 uprising in Syria, the foreign minister took a hard line, stressing there must be no interference from any country or timeline imposed on the process.
Al-Moallem’s speech highlighted the enormous challenges to achieve reconciliation in Syria, where over 400,000 people have been killed during the conflict and millions more have fled.
The more than eight-year conflict has also drawn numerous foreign militaries and thousands of foreign fighters to Syria, many to support the now-defeated Islamic State extremist group and others still there backing the opposition and battling government forces.
“The United States and Turkey maintain an illegal military presence in northern Syria,” al-Moallem said. “Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization are occupying forces and should withdraw immediately.”
If they refuse, he said, “we have the right to take any and all countermeasures authorized under international law.”
There are around 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria on a mission to combat Islamic State militants. The United States also backs and supports Kurdish groups in the northeast that are opposed to the Syrian government and have fought against Sunni extremist groups.
U.S. President Donald Trump had said he wants to bring the troops home, but military officials have advocated a phased approach.
Al-Moallem described Turkey and the United States as “arrogant to the point of holding discussions and reaching agreements on the creation of a so-called ‘safe zone’ inside Syria” as if it was on their own soil. He said any agreement without the consent of the Syrian government is rejected.
The deal between the U.S. and Turkey keeps U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, considered terrorists by Turkey, away from Syria’s northeastern border with Turkey. It involves an area five to 14 kilometers deep (three to eight miles), as well as the removal of heavy weapons from a 20-kilometer-deep zone (12 miles). The length of the zone has not yet been agreed to by both parties but will likely stretch hundreds of kilometers.
Most of Syria is now under the control of the Syrian government, which is backed by Russia and Iran. However, Syrian rebels and extremists still hold Idlib in the northwest, and U.S-backed Kurdish groups hold parts of the oil-rich northeast.
The Syrian government maintains that Idlib remains a hotbed for “terrorists” and al-Moallem vowed that its “war against terrorism” will continue “until rooting out the last remaining terrorist.”
In a breakthrough on the political front, earlier this week U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced the formation of the committee that would draft Syria’s new constitution, which he said could be an important step toward ending the war.
The U.N. chief announced Saturday that the committee will meet for the first time in Geneva on Oct. 30. Its rules state that a new constitution will be followed by “free and fair elections under United Nations supervision.”
The committee was authorized at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in January 2018, but it took nearly 20 months for the sides to agree on the 150 members — particularly on a 50-member civil society of experts, independents, tribal leaders and women to serve alongside 50 members from the government and 50 members from the opposition. The U.N. was authorized to put together the civil society list but the choices faced objections, mainly from the Syrian government.
Under the newly announced terms, the “Syrian-led and Syrian-owned” committee, with U.N. envoy Geir Pedersen as facilitator, will amend the current 2012 constitution or draft a new one.
Al-Moallem stressed that the committee will operate without preconditions, its recommendations must be made independently, and “no deadlines or timetables must be imposed on the committee.”
On another long-simmering dispute, al-Moallem accused Israel of starting “another phase of escalation” through its repeated attacks on Syrian territory and the territory of other neighboring countries.
He stressed that “it is a delusion” to think that the Syrian conflict would force the government to forfeit its “inalienable right” to recover the Golan Heights which Israel captured during the June 1967 war. The annexation is not recognized under international law.
The Trump administration in March signed a proclamation recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, reversing more than a half-century of U.S. policy in the Middle East. He also moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in recognition of Israel’s claims of the city as its capital.
“It is a delusion,” al-Moallem stressed, “to think that the decisions of the U.S. administration on the sovereignty over the Golan would alter historical and geographical facts or the provisions of international law.”
“The Golan has been and will forever be part of Syria,” he said.
EarthLink – News
Greta: Grown-ups mock children because world view threatened
By ROB GILLIES and FRANK JORDANS 08:04 EDT
TORONTO (AP) — Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg said Friday she doesn’t understand why grown-ups and world leaders would mock children and teens for acting on science, responding to attacks on her campaign as students conducted a second wave of global protests demanding action on climate change.
When asked about U.S. President Donald Trump and others who have mocked her, the 16-year-old activist said they likely feel their world view and interests are being threatened by climate activism.
“We’ve become too loud for people to handle so people want to silence us,” she said at a rally in Montreal after meeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We should also take that as a compliment.”
The youth climate movement has drawn criticism from some who accuse the students of overreacting and say they would be better off going to school. In an apparent sarcastic jibe at Thunberg this week following her haranguing of world leaders, Trump tweeted: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”
Instead of addressing Trump by name, she said Friday that she didn’t “understand why grown-ups would choose to mock children and teenagers for just communicating and acting on the science when they could do something good instead.”
Thousands later chanted “Greta! Greta!” as she spoke at an afternoon rally in Montreal.
“We will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse even if that means skipping school or work,” she said. “The people have spoken. And we will continue to speak until our leaders listen and act. We are the change and change is coming.”
Her comments came as students in Italy symbolically torched a replica of planet Earth, one of many protests as part of the climate strikes sparked by the Swedish teen. Some participants echoed the anger she expressed this week at a U.N. summit in New York.
“How dare you!” read one banner at a rally in Italy’s financial hub of Milan, where tens of thousands took to the streets and later gathered around a giant globe to watch it go up in flames.
More than 100,000 people also rallied in Rome, where protesters held up signs with slogans such as “Change the system, not the climate” or just the word “Future.”
Fears about the impact of global warming on younger generation s drew fresh protests in India, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and Bolivia a week after hundreds of thousands rallied worldwide ahead of the U.N. summit.
In New Zealand, students marched on Parliament in Wellington, staging one of the largest protests ever held in that capital.
In Berlin, activists from the Fridays for Future group braved persistent rain to denounce a package of measures that the German government recently agreed on to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say the proposal falls far short of what’s needed if the world’s sixth-biggest emitter is to meet the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord.
Actor Javier Bardem joined dozens of young people in San Sebastian in one of several rallies held across Spain on Friday morning ahead of evening demonstrations in major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona. Bardem was promoting a documentary he worked on with Greenpeace.
In Austria, organizers said 150,000 people participated, while local APA news agency said the number was 65,000.
In Poland, protesters blocked traffic in downtown Warsaw by chaining themselves to a tent. Police and firefighters tried to negotiate with them.
In Buenos Aires, where school strikes inspired by Thunberg have taken place since March, several thousand people marched from the famed Plaza de Mayo to the Congress. Protests occurred elsewhere in Latin America, including in Chile and Bolivia.
Protesters even rallied on Chile’s Easter Island, known for its massive statues known as moai.
In Canada, Thunberg met Trudeau, who praised her activism on climate change.
“She is the voice of a generation, of young people who are calling on their leaders to do more and do better,” Trudeau said. “And I am listening.”
Trudeau, who is in the middle of an election campaign, announced a plan to plant 2 billion trees over the next decade.
Thunberg, however, indicated that she expects more, even of leaders who welcome the movement. Scientists this week issued new dire warnings about the consequences of rising temperatures on the world’s oceans and cold regions.
Thunberg told a crowd in Montreal it was moving to see people of all generations so passionate for a cause.
“He (Trudeau) is of course obviously not doing enough, but this is just a huge problem, this is a system that is wrong,” she said. “My message to all the politicians is the same: Just listen and act on the science.”
Giada Zampano reported from Rome. Rob Gillies in Toronto, Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand; Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands; Debora Rey in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile; and Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://www.apnews.com/Climate
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Prince Harry walks through Angola mine field, echoing Diana
By CARA ANNA | 09:50 EDT
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A body armor-wearing Prince Harry on Friday followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana, whose walk through an active mine field in Angola years ago helped to lead to a global ban on the deadly weapons.
The prince walked through a dusty mine field marked with skull-and-crossbones warning signs, and was visiting the spot where Diana was famously photographed on a similar walk during her own Africa visit in 1997. That field in Huambo is now a busy street. The southern African nation is now years past a grinding civil war and hopes to be land mine-free by 2025, a goal of scores of countries around the world.
“Land mines are an unhealed scar of war,” Harry said in the town of Dirico. “By clearing the land mines we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity.” He said retracing his mother’s path was “quite emotional.”
Diana’s visit is still very much discussed today in Huambo after people were struck by her warmth and willingness to acknowledge their country’s devastating 27-year conflict, the Angola country director for mine-clearing organization The HALO Trust said.
“The main impact of Diana’s walk in 1997 was the level of global exposure it provided for land mines not only in Angola but the world,” Ralph Legg said. She was a great advocate for a land mine ban, and “her willingness to visit an actual mine field, to place herself right in that context, provided great impetus and gave it a great boost.”
The international ban on anti-personnel mines was signed that year and entered into force two years later. So far 164 countries have signed on. “More than 48 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed and 31 countries have been completely cleared of land mines,” The HALO Trust said, while production of the weapons has almost dried up.
Harry on his visit also remotely detonated a decades-old mine, met with mine-clearing teams and was visiting the orthopedic hospital his mother visited for her meetings with mine victims.
“I think that will be a very poignant moment of coming full circle,” Legg said. “Very striking once people compare those images from the two visits to see how far Angola has come.”
The world, however, is hardly free of mines, and the prince said Angola itself still has more than 1,000 mine fields left to clear, 22 years after his mother’s visit.
“I wonder if she was still alive whether that would still be the case,” Harry said. “I’m pretty sure she would have seen it through.”
Other countries that remain heavily mined include Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, and Afghanistan led the world with at least 2,300 casualties in 2017, according to the Landmine Monitor 2018 report.
“Myanmar was the only known instance of government forces actively planting the weapons” in the year-long period between October 2017 and 2018, the report said.
“A staggering 60 million people around the world still live in fear and risk of land mines. We cannot turn our backs on them and leave a job half done,” Harry said.
Angola, which has committed a new $60 million for mine clearance, now hopes to turn some of its mine-free areas into sites for wildlife conservation and ecotourism. The prince was unveiling a project meant to protect wildlife corridors near the sprawling Okavango Delta, a rare inland delta in neighboring Botswana that doesn’t flow into a sea or ocean and is home to several endangered species.
Harry called on for international effort to help clear mines from the Okavango watershed in Angola. “Everyone who recognizes the priceless importance of safeguarding Africa’s most intact natural landscape should commit fully to this mission,” he said.
His first official family tour with his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and their baby, Archie, will continue with stops in Malawi and further events in South Africa with a focus on issues including mental health and women’s empowerment.
Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa
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Large chunk of border wall funding diverted from tiny Guam
By AUDREY McAVOY | Sat, September 28, 2019 09:08 EDT
HONOLULU (AP) — President Donald Trump is raising a large chunk of the money for his border wall with Mexico by deferring several military construction projects slated for Guam, a strategic hub for U.S. forces in the Pacific.
This may disrupt plans to move Marines to Guam from Japan and to modernize munitions storage for the Air Force.
About 7% of the funds for the $3.6 billion wall are being diverted from eight projects in the U.S. territory, a key spot in the U.S. military’s efforts to deter North Korea and counter China’s growing military.
The administration has vowed it’s only delaying the spending, not canceling it. But Democrats in Congress, outraged over Trump’s use of an emergency order for the wall, have promised they won’t approve money to revive the projects.
“The fact is, by literally taking that money after it had been put in place and using it for something else, you now put those projects in jeopardy,” said Carl Baker, executive director of Pacific Forum, a Honolulu-based foreign policy think tank.
The Senate on Wednesday passed a measure blocking Trump from raiding the military construction budget for the wall. The Democratic-controlled House passed the bill on Friday, but Trump is expected to veto it as he did with an identical measure in March.
The tiny island of Guam holds a naval base with fast attack submarines and an Air Force base with bombers that rotate in from the mainland.
The U.S. currently plans to start moving 5,000 Marines there from Okinawa in southern Japan around 2025. This is part of a decades-long effort by Tokyo and Washington to relieve the congested Japanese island’s burden of hosting half the U.S. forces stationed in Japan. The total cost of relocating the Marines is $8.7 billion, of which Japan is paying $3.1 billion.
The projects put on hold by the border wall are a small share of this total, yet critical to the relocation.
There’s $56 million to build a well system that will supply most of the water to be used by a new Marine base. The area’s existing water supply is inadequate to meet the needs of the transferred troops.
There’s also a $50 million live-fire training range and a $52 million munitions storage facility. Documents about the projects the military provided to Congress say the Marines won’t leave Okinawa until replacement facilities in Guam are ready. The documents say failure to complete these two projects could delay or prevent the Marines from moving.
Guam activists opposed to the live-fire range said the delay will give them time to study ancient settlements found in the area. They said it would be irresponsible to move forward on projects that would destroy cultural sites and cause irreversible environmental damage when there’s so much uncertainty about the relocation.
“Our organization is conflicted about the means in which the pause was achieved because these are two instances of colonial injustice, one impacting the other,” the group Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian said in a statement.
The U.S. reassured Japan immediately after the announcement that it would stick to the existing timeline.
“We have received explanation from the U.S. side about the shifting of the budget that it will not affect the planned movement of Marines on Okinawa to Guam, and that the U.S. government commitment to the realignment plan is unchanged,” then-Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters earlier this month.
Discussions to reduce the U.S. presence on Okinawa began in the mid-1990s after the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three U.S. servicemen sparked mass demonstrations. The allies in 2006 said they would send Marines to Guam by 2014, a deadline that slipped as they revised plans.
Although Okinawa makes up less than 1 percent of Japan’s land space, it hosts about half of the 54,000 American troops stationed in Japan and is home to 64 percent of the land used by the U.S. bases in the country under a bilateral security treaty.
Jeffrey Hornung, a researcher at the RAND Corporation, a public policy research institute, said even before the latest development, some Okinawa residents were frustrated with the lack of progress in moving the Marines.
“The fact is, the longer that the projects on Guam are delayed, that means the longer that there’s not going to be any forward movement on some aspects of moving the Marines off Okinawa,” Hornung said. “And this all comes from taking money to build a border wall.”
Diverted spending also will affect the Air Force, including $45.1 million for two projects to update 70-year-old munitions storage.
The Air Force has been rotating bombers — the B-2 stealth bomber as well as the B-1 and B-52 — through Guam since in 2004 to compensate for U.S. forces sent from the Asia-Pacific region to fight in the Middle East. In 2017, the U.S. dispatched a B-1 bomber from Guam to the Korean peninsula as a show of force after North Korea accelerated its efforts to test intercontinental ballistic missiles and expand its nuclear weapons program.
Project documents say existing facilities won’t adequately support the mission of the 36th Munitions Squadron on Guam. They say upgrades are needed to correct a faulty door design, address earth cover lost during typhoons and house new long-range air-to-ground precision missiles.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case, a Democrat from Hawaii who sits on the House appropriations subcommittee for military construction, said he’s concerned the administration diverted so much from Guam, given the island is key to the nation’s defense posture in the Pacific.
But he said rewarding these funds in another budget would set an “incredibly dangerous precedent.”
“That is a very difficult situation because these are priority projects. However, if we simply said yes to this president on that basis, which he is very much hoping that we will do, then we have essentially said to him and any future president that Congress’ role as the responsible branch of government for appropriations no longer counts,” Case said.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.