United Nations, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday the Central African Republic, which has suffered overlapping national and local conflicts for decades despite 15 peace agreements since 1997, is an example of why "diplomacy for peace" is needed more than ever.
The U.N. chief told the Security Council that he believes it is possible to reverse trends like the one in Central African Republic, which is why "we must make prevention our priority."
But Guterres stressed that conflict prevention must include investment in mediation, peacebuilding and economic development that preserves the environment.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby went further, telling council members that mediation can only be effective when it takes place alongside reconciliation efforts.
"Where mediation is about resolving conflict, reconciliation is the process of transforming violent conflict into non-violent coexistence where communities have come to terms with history and are learning to disagree well," Welby said. "Mediation by itself, however skilled, is like using a garden hose to put out a forest fire, when what you need is rain over the whole area to let new life grow and sustain itself."
Since he became secretary-general in January 2017, Guterres has been focused on how to tackle wars, which he said are "becoming increasingly complex," and mediating peace, which he said is also becoming increasingly difficult.
He said that today conflicts drag on for years and decades, and international attention drifts, with peace agreements becoming "more elusive and short-lived."
Guterres said prevention and diplomacy are now top priorities.
U.N. envoys are pursuing mediation which may possibly lead to political solutions in Libya and Yemen, he said, and U.N. efforts have led to peacekeeping missions like the one in Mali, which is the deadliest for U.N. troops.
Noting last month's peace declaration between Ethiopia and Eritrea after 20 years of conflict, Guterres said, the U.N. must move beyond "negotiations with political and military elites" to help build peace from the ground up. And he said the 193-nation world organizations must bring disparate tracks together to coordinate peace efforts.
Welby, who leads the Anglican church, said unlike many other organizations "the church and other faith communities are intimately present where there are conflicts."
"We cannot and will not walk away from them," he said, citing as an example conflict-wracked South Sudan where he said church leaders including Anglican Archbishop Justin Badi "are playing an increasingly important role in moving the whole peace process beyond the current roadblocks."
Welby stressed that there will always be profound differences among and within nations.
"We have avoided global nuclear war, yet not its continuing menace," he said.
But the archbishop warned that even in the Security Council the international "rules-based order is struggling" against national interests.
"Without dealing with even passionate disagreement peacefully, no national interest can prevail," Welby warned. "Short term advantage for one interest leads to long term destruction for all, through great wars and small conflicts."
British Minister of State Lord Tariq Ahmad, who chaired the meeting, told the council that "as the nature of conflict evolves, mediation will be needed more than ever" and "the United Nations must stand ready to ensure that it is equal to the task."
Phoenix, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — Thousands of people paid their respects to U.S. Sen. John McCain on Wednesday, standing for hours in the broiling Arizona sun before filing past the flag-draped casket that his tearful wife, Cindy, lovingly pressed her face against after a ceremony for the former North Vietnam prisoner of war who represented Arizona for decades.
Former military members in shorts and T-shirts stopped and saluted the closed casket flanked by National Guard members at the Arizona Capitol. Families with small children came by, and several people placed their hand over their heart or bowed, including Vietnamese-born residents who traveled from Southern California.
The private service held earlier marked the first appearance of McCain's family since the Republican senator died Saturday of brain cancer. It also began two days of official mourning in Arizona before his body is taken to Washington for a viewing at the U.S. Capitol, followed by burial at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
At the emotional private ceremony in Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey remembered McCain as an internationally known figure and "Arizona's favorite adopted son" on what would have been his 82nd birthday. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone while his father, who went on to become an admiral, served in the military.
"Imagining an Arizona without John McCain is like picturing Arizona without the Grand Canyon," Ducey said.
Former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl said he had been with McCain across the world and he had better instincts on when to assert U.S. power than anyone else he knew.
"I will miss him as a friend, and a strong force for America and the world," Kyl said.
Sen. Jeff Flake offered the benediction, expressing gratitude "for his life and for his sacrifice" and "that John made Arizona his home."
By the time the ceremony ended, crowds gathered for the public viewing of McCain's closed casket, seeking shelter from Phoenix's summer heat under tents stocked with coolers filled with ice and water.
Several heat injuries occurred late in the afternoon as the temperature reached a high of 104 degrees, and two people were taken to the hospital, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.
The line snaked down streets even as a continuous flow of people flowed past the casket. The visitation was to continue as long as people waited in line, said Rick Davis, McCain's former presidential campaign manager.
By the time government offices closed for the day, more than 7,500 people filed by, and that number was expected to grow, DPS spokesman Bart Graves said.
Some people traveled for hours, including a group of Vietnamese-born residents of Orange County, California, who arrived on two buses and wore yellow T-shirts reading, "We salute our hero Senator John McCain."
McCain was beloved among many Vietnamese-Americans for his history of fighting alongside the South Vietnamese and for supporting the families of political detainees, said Derrick Nguyen, who was with the group.
Nguyen said that in the 1990s, McCain pushed an amendment to a law that allowed for unmarried, adult children of political detainees to come to the U.S.
"Many, many of the families that wouldn't have made it to America made it here," he said. "And they have become U.S. citizens and good Americans."
Ray Riordan, an 87-year-old Navy veteran who fought in the Korean War, came from Payson, Arizona.
"I grew up where a handshake was a contract and your word was your bond," Riordan said. "He represented the last of that as far as I'm concerned."
Kassandra Morales, 44, stood in line with her sons, 8 and 2. The Democrat brought a bouquet of flowers and said she had always looked up to McCain and voted for him.
"Yesterday I asked my son who his hero was. He gave me a rapper's name," Morales said. "I brought my children here to show them what a real hero was."
For some Arizona residents, McCain has been a political fixture their entire lives. He took office in the state in the early 1980s, first as a congressman and then as a senator.
Phil Hubbard, a health care recruiter who lives in Scottsdale, held a cold water bottle in each hand as he waited for a chance to pay his respects.
"He believed in something," Hubbard said. "That's what he did, and that's what a lot of people need to do in this country. If you believe in something, stand up for it, whether it's popular or not."
On Thursday morning, a procession through Phoenix will bring the casket to a memorial service at a Baptist church, with the public invited to line the route along a highway. Former Vice President Joe Biden will speak.
McCain will then depart Arizona for another viewing Friday at the U.S. Capitol, with a final memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral, followed by burial at the academy.
Washington, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — President Donald Trump said that there's no reason to spend a lot of money on military wargames with South Korea, but he warned he could "instantly" relaunch the exercises again and they would be "far bigger than ever before."
Trump made the comment Wednesday in a series of tweets that primarily took aim at China, blaming it for lack of progress on getting North Korea to end its nuclear program, following the president's landmark summit with Kim Jong Un in June.
But there was also a loaded message for Kim: mixing an expression of goodwill to the North Korean autocrat with an implicit military threat that will add to speculation over the direction of Trump's attempted rapprochement with a longtime adversary.
"The president believes that his relationship with Kim Jong Un is a very good and warm one, and there is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games," Trump said, citing what was presented as a White House statement. "Besides, the president can instantly start the joint exercises again with South Korea, and Japan, if he so chooses. If he does, they will be far bigger than ever before."
Trump caught military leaders by surprise in June when he announced the suspension with the South, "unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should." He called the drills costly and provocative.
The cancellation was an olive branch to Pyongyang, which has long complained that the exercises were invasion preparations. Often the North has reacted to the exercises with its own demonstrations of military might, including firing a new intermediate-range missile over Japan last year as a countermeasure to the drills.
There was some hope that the gesture of shelving the fall exercises would foster goodwill and help nudge the North in the denuclearization talks. But beyond returning the potential remains of about 55 U.S. troops missing from the Korean War, and its continuing suspension in its missile and nuclear tests, there has been little movement from the North.
As a result, the U.S. last week shelved a planned trip to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing lack of progress on denuclearization, but remaining open to future talks.
As doubts grow in Washington and beyond over Kim's willingness to relinquish his nukes, Trump has been heaping blame on China, which is North Korea's traditional ally and main trading partner. On Wednesday the president accused Beijing of pressuring the North because of current tensions in U.S.-China trade relations, and also of providing North Korea money, fuel, fertilizer and other commodities, which he said was not helpful.
China cooperated with the U.S. last year in adopting tough international sanctions against North Korea and maintains it is still enforcing the restrictions adopted by the U.N. Security Council.
But in his tweets, Trump also signaled that the U.S. has its own military means of exerting pressure on Pyongyang. His remarks compounded confusing messages from the Pentagon over the past two days that have revived speculation over the drills.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters the U.S. might carry out drills with South Korea next spring after having cancelled a major exercise this summer. He said no decision has been made on when to resume military exercises, but his statements suggested the recent cancellation might not be repeated.
Several U.S. officials acknowledged Wednesday that planning is going forward for the spring exercises, which require months of preparation.
"Routine planning continues for major U.S.-ROK exercises on the peninsula in accordance with the normal exercise program planning cycle," said Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, referring to the acronym for South's official name, the Republic of Korea.
Other U.S. officials also said preliminary work on the drills has begun, noting that it is much easier to cancel an exercise than it is to slap one together quickly. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations.
David Maxwell, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the initial planning for the exercises can begin a year in advance, including the funding, scheduling and movement of forces and units that will participate. As time goes on, planners would nail down the war game scenario and other details.
"We continue to plan for exercises, but we can stop them on a dime," said Maxwell, a retired Army colonel who served five tours in Korea. "We can't restart them on a dime."
He said the risk of a continued halt in the major drills would be a diminishing of skills and institutional memory between South Korean forces and the more than 28,000 U.S. troops based there. "The longer we go without exercises, the more risk there is that we will suffer significant challenges if there is a war," Maxwell said.
U.S. officials said Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces in Korea, has taken steps to mitigate any loss of training by scheduling smaller exercises and staff drills.
A key challenge in Korea is that the bulk of the U.S. forces deploy for just a year, so they rely on the summer exercise to get familiar with the South Korean military and the ways allied troops coordinate and operate with them. The spring Foal Eagle drill is more expansive and includes fighter jets, maritime maneuvers, amphibious assault tactics and computer-simulated scenarios.
Washington, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — John McCain's rebellious streak didn't come out of nowhere. His mother, Roberta, had a habit of speeding behind the wheel and racking up tickets. When told during a trip to Europe that she was too old to rent a car, she went out and bought a Peugeot. Her son once answered the telephone to hear his mother say she was on a cross-country driving trip — by herself, in her 90s.
Now 106, the wife of a Navy admiral and mother of a Navy captain lived a life full of travel and adventure, punctuated by her sass and determination.
She once said her son liked to hold her up as an example of "what he hopes his lifespan will be."
But in the end, she is mourning him instead of the other way around.
Though slowed by a stroke, she is expected to attend memorial and burial services in Washington and Maryland later this week for the middle son she called "Johnny," the Vietnam prisoner of war, congressman, senator and two-time presidential candidate who died of brain cancer on Saturday at age 81.
The senator said in one of his books that "my mother was raised to be a strong, determined woman who thoroughly enjoyed life, and always tried to make the most of her opportunities. She was encouraged to accept, graciously and with good humor, the responsibilities and sacrifices her choices have required of her. I am grateful to her for the strengths she taught me by example."
McCain's father, too, had a penchant for living large, with the senator recalling that a predilection for "quick tempers, adventurous spirits, and love for the country's uniform" was encoded in his family DNA.
A native of Muskogee, Oklahoma, Roberta Wright was nearly 21 and a college student in southern California when she eloped to Tijuana, Mexico, in January 1933 with a young sailor named John S. McCain Jr. He would go on to become a Navy admiral, like the father he shared a name with, and the couple would have three children — Jean, John and Joseph — within a decade.
With her husband away on Navy business most of the time, Roberta McCain raised the kids. She didn't complain, and loved Navy life. The family lived in Hawaii, the Panama Canal Zone — where the senator was born in 1936 — Connecticut, Virginia and many points in between.
"To me, the Navy epitomizes everything that's good in America," she told C-SPAN in 2008 during the presidential contest John McCain lost to Barack Obama.
John McCain followed his father and grandfather's footsteps into the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he'll be laid to rest on Sunday. He became a fighter pilot and joined the combat action in Vietnam. He was on his 23rd bombing run over North Vietnam when he was shot out of the sky and taken prisoner in October 1967.
His parents were in London getting ready to attend a dinner at Iran's embassy when a special phone that Roberta McCain says she never touched rang while her husband was in the shower. She answered and listened as a friend told her two planes had been shot down and none of the pilots had ejected. She told her husband when he came out of the shower, and they kept to their plans.
"We went and decided we were not going to say one word at this dinner," she said in the 2008 interview.
She said that later learning her son was alive and had become a prisoner of war was "the best news I ever had in my life."
Roberta McCain missed watching her son's release from Vietnam on television in 1973. Someone telephoned and told her to watch the TV, something she said she did little of. "These people came off and the television stopped, so I turned off the television," she explained. "I didn't know that between ads he did come off ... and I missed it."
She later said she was "ashamed" of her son for the "terrible language" he used toward the Vietnamese captors who tortured him.
"I never would have believed in this world he would ever use language like that, but he did," Roberta McCain said in the interview, which was conducted at her Washington home.
Well into her 90s, she became a fixture on John McCain's 2008 campaign, connecting with audiences and displaying some of the sass and wit he appeared to have inherited from her.
John McCain wrote in his final book, published this year, that his 106-year-old mother's "vivaciousness is a force of nature" but that although a stroke has slowed her once-brisk pace and has made speaking a "chore," she still has "a spark in her, a brightness in her eyes that would light up the world if she could resume her peripatetic life."
Roberta McCain and her identical twin sister, Rowena Wright, who died in 2011, often traveled around the world together.
Beijing, Aug 29 (AP/UNB) — China has denied an accusation by U.S. President Donald Trump that it hacked the emails of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent in the 2016 election.
"We are firmly opposed to all forms of cyberattacks and espionage," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing Wednesday. She said China is a staunch defender of cybersecurity.
Trump tweeted shortly after midnight that China had hacked Clinton's emails, without offering any evidence or further information, and suggested that the FBI and Department of Justice should investigate.
"Hillary Clinton's Emails, many of which are Classified Information, got hacked by China. Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ," he tweeted.
U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Russia of involvement in the hacking of Democratic emails during the 2016 election campaign. The Justice Department has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking into Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic Party.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia's role in the election and whether there was any collusion between it and Trump's campaign.
Hua also denied on Wednesday that China was building a military base in far-eastern Afghanistan after a report published by the South China Morning Post alleged that Beijing was constructing a counterterrorism-focused facility near its border but inside the war-torn Islamic republic.
The report said China's People Liberation Army could send hundreds of military personnel into Afghanistan after the base is completed.