UN regrets US president's sanctions on ICC

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA) – The UN human rights office said Friday it regrets a set of sanctions authorized by the administration of US President Donald Trump against International Criminal Court (ICC) officials who prosecute American troops.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a video press briefing expressed the regret and impact the US measures may have on the investigations and trials underway in the ICC.

"The independence of the ICC and its ability to operate without interference must be guaranteed so that it can decide matters without any improper influence, inducements, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter, or for any reason," said Colville.

He noted: "Victims of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law and their families have the right to redress and to the truth."

"The measures announced impact not only the ICC officials but also impact their family members."

He observed that in terms what the US is saying, the investigation in question is in Afghanistan.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had said in a statement Thursday, "As part of President Donald J. Trump's steadfast commitment to protecting American service members and defending our national sovereignty," he had authorized economic sanctions against ICC officials directly engaged with any effort to investigate or prosecute US personnel without the consent of the United States.

She said Trump also authorized the expansion of visa restrictions against ICC officials and family members.

The Trump administration believes there is "corruption and misconduct at the highest levels" of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor.

The administration, therefore, questioned the integrity of investigations into American service members, according to the spokeswoman.

ICC officials involved in an investigation about whether US soldiers committed war crimes in Afghanistan after a preliminary examination in 2017 showed "reasonable ground," the court said.

"The United States is not a State Party to the Rome Statute and has repeatedly rejected the International Criminal Court's assertions of jurisdiction over United States personnel," she added, calling ICC's actions "an attack on the rights of the American people" and threatening "to infringe upon US national sovereignty," McEnany said.

She emphasized that although the US reiterated its call a couple of times, the ICC "has taken no action to reform itself" and "continued to pursue politically-motivated investigations" against Washington and its allies.

"We are concerned that adversary nations are manipulating the International Criminal Court by encouraging these allegations against United States personnel," she said.

WHO chief says collaboration with US should continue

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA) – The World Health Organization chief said Monday he had heard only from the media about US President Donald Trump's decision of termination to cut ties with the WHO, but the organization wants "continued cooperation".

"The announcement was last Friday as we all heard. And the only communication we have, or announcement, was actually Friday's media announcement from the US," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros, the WHO director-general, told reporters at the organization's thrice-weekly video press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said in his regular speech before taking questions: "I will conclude by saying that we have received questions about Friday's announcement by the president of the United States of America.

"The world has long benefited from the strong, collaborative engagement with the government and the people of the US.

"The US government and people's contribution and generosity towards global health over many decades has been immense, and it has made a great difference in public health all around the world. It is WHO's wish for this collaboration to continue."

Trump announced Friday the US is ending its relationship with the WHO following a months-long review he had ordered.

The US president said he was taking the action "because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms".

That was after Trump paused Washington's funding over concerns the global health body mishandled the novel coronavirus outbreak.

"We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization, and redirecting those funds to other world-wide and deserving urgent global public health needs," he said.

Trump continued to insist China has "total control" over the WHO, claiming "Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations" to the health body during the coronavirus pandemic, and "pressured" it to "mislead the world."

Tedros announced Monday the world had surpassed 6 million cases of COVID-19 across the planet.

According to Johns Hopkins University in the US, there have been over 373,000 deaths and more than 2.66 million recoveries from the virus so far.

Trump tells governors to 'dominate' streets amid unrest

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Donald Trump told state governors during a teleconference call Monday to "dominate" protesters as demonstrations over the death of an unarmed, handcuffed black man in police custody continue to reverberate nationwide.

Trump repeatedly berated the state leaders, calling them "weak" and telling governors to "take back your streets," according to multiple reports that cited anonymous sources with knowledge of the conversation.

“You have to dominate,” he told governors, according to the New York Times. “If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time — they’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks."

Trump has not spoken about the unrest publicly since Saturday afternoon as protests have continued to persist in metropolises nationwide, some within feet (meters) of the executive mansion, which turned off its exterior lighting as demonstrations turned violent Sunday evening.

The demonstrations were spawn by the death of George Floyd, 46, who died May 25 during an arrest after a since-fired police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, refusing to heed Floyd's pleas that he could not breathe before he appeared to fall unconscious.

After several demonstrations turned violent last week Trump has repeatedly called for "LAW & ORDER," and urged state governors to activate the National Guard to halt the violence while lambasting Democratic officials.

About half of the 50 states and the nation's capital have activated the National Guard.

The president has no scheduled public appearances Monday, though his spokeswoman is expected to address reporters Monday afternoon.

South Korea's president to attend Trump’s G7 meeting

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – South Korea on Monday confirmed that President Moon Jae-in will attend the G7 meeting set to be hosted by US President Donald Trump later this year.

A spokesman for The Blue House, South Korean presidential office, said in a statement that Moon accepted Trump’s invitation for the delayed G7 meeting during a phone conversation, the state-run Yonhap News Agency reported.

"In their 15-minute telephone conversation, Trump said G7's outdated system does not represent the current international security situation. He [Trump] said the US is seeking to expand the forum to G11 or G12," spokesman Kang Min-seok said.

Trump signaled to add South Korea, Australia, India, and Russia to the upcoming session that the US is planning to host around the UN General Assembly in September.

The US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Britain are members of the G7. The G7 2020 session was set for March but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moon said: "It is an appropriate measure to invite the four nations in addition."

"I am willing to accept it [invitation]," Moon told Trump in a 15-minute-long phone call. "South Korea will play the role that it can over quarantine and the economy."

"If G7 takes place in an expanded and face-to-face format this year, it will be a milestone in preparations for the post-coronavirus era," Moon said, adding: "It will also herald that the world is returning to a normal life and economy."