INF Treaty withdrawal
The United States announced that it would suspend participation in The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), planning to fully withdraw in six months. At the same time, the United States hopes to continue negotiations with Russia, Pompeo said.
The document itself is of unlimited duration. At the same time, each of the participants has the right to terminate it by presenting convincing evidence about the need to exit. Pompeo added that the US hopes to change its relations with Russia, but, according to him, Moscow must change its destabilizing behavior.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro proposed holding early parliamentary elections this year in order to overcome the political crisis.
The parliamentary elections in the country should only be held in 2020. In the current parliament, the opposition has the majority of votes; the Parliament’s speaker, Juan Guaido, declared himself as president and was recognized by the US among other states around the world.
Speaking at a rally of his supporters in Caracas, Maduro said he supported the calls made in the country’s Constitutional Assembly to hold early parliamentary elections. Unlike the parliament, supporters of the president dominate the Constitutional Assembly.
Also this week, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company was sanctioned by the US, putting significant pressure on President Nicolas Maduro.
Ashraf Ghani proposes an alternative to US troop withdrawal
Reports in the Western media, citing anonymous sources from the Afghan government, reported that Afghan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani sent a letter to Donald Trump asking him to slow down the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. According to the reports, the letter was given to Alice Wells, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, who visited Kabul after the latest round of peace talks with the Taliban.
At the same time, the world community has been actively discussing the prospect of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan since December 2018, when Donald Trump announced his decision to reduce troop presence by 14,000.
I inherited a total mess in Syria and Afghanistan, the “Endless Wars” of unlimited spending and death. During my campaign I said, very strongly, that these wars must finally end. We spend $50 Billion a year in Afghanistan and have hit them so hard that we are now talking peace…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2019
Reports about US withdrawal amid an unstable security situation and the growing number of casualties among Afghan forces became a strong concern for officials.
According to two diplomatic sources from Afghan government who have seen the letter, Ashraf Ghani is asking Trump to refrain from hasty withdrawal, offering him reduced costs for keeping US troops in the country.
The Afghan leader proposed developing a program of cost reduction and partial withdrawal together, utilizing specialists from both countries.
According to diplomatic sources, the Afghan government is offering $2 billion a year in cost reductions in return from Trump lowering troop reductions to 3,000.