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Different attitudes of US, UK on Russian involvement in Syria

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

London: Talks held between British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Kerry, displayed different attitudes of UK and the US towards Russia’s involvement in the Syria crisis.

Photo credit: independent.co.uk
Photo credit: independent.co.uk

After the meeting at Hammond’s official residence on Saturday, Kerry said defence secretaries of the US and Russia had held extensive talks via telephone on the fight against the IS, reported Xinhua news agency.

Kerry, who is on his three-day visit to Britain, said, “would we welcome Russian help in going against IS? Obviously. We have talked about it for some period of time.”

“But the other part of the equation is Assad (President of Syria) and how you resolve the fact that he is a magnet for foreign fighters to come to the region,” he added.

The British government had been clear that if it is believed airstrikes in Syria were necessary it would go back to parliament for a vote, Hammond said.

“We keep that situation under continuous review and we will continue to talk to our allies about the military situation in the round,” he said.

Hammond said the situation in Syria becomes more complicated because of the Russian engagement.

“I think we need to discuss this as part of a much bigger problem: the migration pressures, the humanitarian crisis in Syria as well as the need to defeat IS,” he added.

Kerry described Russia’s new focus on fighting IS militants as an opportunity to push toward a political settlement and said the “root cause” of the current migrant crisis in Europe was the violence in Syria.

He said the US is prepared to negotiate, but have not known if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia were prepared to a negotiation.

The US has called for Assad to go, but on Saturday Kerry reaffirmed the US position that this removal “does not have to be on day one or month one… There is a process by which all the parties have to come together to reach an understanding of how this can best be achieved,” according to BBC.

He said the talks in London laid the groundwork for forthcoming meetings at the UN over Syria. He will leave for Berlin on Sunday.

With inputs from IANS

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Judge Order Government Find Separated Children at US-Mexico Border

U.S. government had started implementing its policy of separating families months before it was announced “a very significant event.

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US, judge, children
FILE - Christian, from Honduras, recounts his separation from his child at the border during a news conference at the Annunciation House,in El Paso, Texas, June 25, 2018. VOA

A U.S. judge Thursday appeared open to ordering the government to find potentially thousands of additional children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration, which could greatly expand the scope of a lawsuit challenging the separations.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego called a January report by an internal government watchdog that found the U.S. government had started implementing its policy of separating families months before it was announced “a very significant event.”

The Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a report published earlier this year that the agency had identified many more children in addition to the 2,737 included as part of the class action lawsuit challenging family separations brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last year.

children, judge, US
Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego, July 17, 2018. Sabraw, who ordered children be reunited with their families after being separated at the US-Mexico border, may order the government to expand the scope of the reunifications. VOA

ACLU wants all families reunited

In response to the lawsuit, Sabraw ordered the families identified through a court process to be reunited with their children.

The ACLU has petitioned the judge to expand the class to force the government to do a full accounting of any additional separated children.

The premise of the class action lawsuit, Sabraw said, was the “overarching allegation of the unlawful separation” of families by the Trump administration.

“When there’s an allegation of wrong on this scale, one of the most fundamental obligations of law is to determine the scope of the wrong,” he said. “It is important to recognize we are talking about human beings.”

The administration of President Donald Trump implemented a “zero tolerance” policy to criminally prosecute and jail all illegal border crossers, even those traveling with their children, leading to a wave of separations last year. The policy sparked outrage when it became public, and the backlash led Trump to sign an executive order reversing course June 20, 2018.

In light of the Inspector General’s findings, as well as investigative reporting, Sabraw said, the current June 26, 2018, cut-off date for cases to be part of the lawsuit becomes “very arbitrary.”

‘Other galaxy of a task’

Department of Justice attorney Scott Stewart argued that the ACLU’s request to expand the class would blow the case into an “other galaxy of a task.” The government has argued in court papers that it is too labor intensive to find children who were separated and subsequently released to sponsors before the court order last year.

While most of the outrage last year focused on the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, the government has continued to separate families on a smaller scale.

ALSO READ: Trump’s Idea to Siphon Money for Border Wall Meets Resistance

In a filing Wednesday, the government said it had separated 245 children at the border between June 26, 2018, and Feb. 5, 2019. The government said 92 percent of these children were separated because of “parent criminality, prosecution, gang affiliation, or other law enforcement purpose.”

Advocates say there is little transparency about the criteria and evidence used to justify ongoing separations. (VOA)