Trump moves to designate Brazil 'major non-NATO ally'

            <p>By Umar Farooq</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he will designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally.</p>  <p>&quot;I am making this designation in recognition of the Government of Brazil's recent commitments to increase defense cooperation with the United States, and in recognition of our own national interest in deepening our defense coordination with Brazil,&quot; Trump said in a statement to Congress.</p>  <p>In order to grant major non-NATO ally status to a country, Trump has to wait 30 days after notifying Congress of the intended designation.</p>  <p> The benefits of the designation include collaboration on the development of defense technologies, special access to military equipment financing, privileged access to the U.S. defense industry and increased joint military exchanges, exercises and training.</p>  <p>Seventeen other countries hold the status of major non-NATO ally including Israel, Japan and South Korea.</p>  <p>Trump has previously said the United States is looking &quot;very strongly&quot; at granting Brazil some NATO privileges, noting his administration is &quot;very inclined to do that&quot;.</p>  <p>&quot;We are going to look at that very, very strongly in terms of whether it’s NATO or something having to do with the alliance,&quot; the president said in March. </p>  <p>Should Brazil ever clear the lengthy process of ascension, it would become the first Latin American nation to join NATO. All 29 of NATO’s member states are in North America and Europe.</p>  Trump has long been a critic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, calling on other member states to shoulder more of its defense burden by increasing military spending.

Brazil president: Intervention in Venezuela near-zero

             By Omer Yetkin Acar</p>  <p>SAO PAULO, Brazil (AA) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said speculation his country’s military would join armed intervention in Venezuela is very slim.</p>  <p>&quot;I can not say that the hypothesis of participating an armed intervention into Venezuela is zero. But it is near-zero,&quot; Bolsonaro told reporters late Tuesday. </p>  <p>He did leave open the possibility of his country’s soil being used to stage an operation in Venezuela when he said if the U.S. wants to use Brazil's territory for the intervention, &quot;I will consult this with Brazil's National Defense Council and decide.&quot; </p>  <p>&quot;Brazil is closely following the situation in Venezuela and reaffirms its support for the democratic transition taking place in the neighboring country,&quot; he wrote on Twitter.</p>  <p>His remarks came after Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido released a video on Twitter in which he could be seen alongside a small contingent of uniformed military personnel and armored vehicles calling for an uprising to end the &quot;usurpation&quot; of President Nicolas Maduro. </p>  <p>Guaido said it was the beginning of the final phase of &quot;Operation Liberty&quot; to oust Maduro. </p>  <p>&quot;The National Armed Forces have made the correct decision. They have the support of the Venezuelan people,&quot; Guaido said. </p>  <p>He also called on Venezuelans to take to the streets to support the &quot;democratic forces&quot; and &quot;recover the country's freedom.”</p>  <p>Venezuela has been in the throes of humanitarian and economic crises amid the political deadlock between Guaido and Maduro as Washington has ramped up diplomatic and economic pressure on Maduro in a bid to get him to relinquish power, including sanctioning his state-run oil company.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>  <p>*Writing by Faruk Zorlu

Brazil detains FETO-linked man sought by Turkey

            By Omer Yetkin Acar</p>  <p>SAO PAULO, Brazil (AA) – A man who is wanted by Turkey has been in Brazilian custody since returning from the U.S. on April 5, local authorities said Friday.</p>  <p>Turkey has sought the extradition of Ali Sipahi due to his links to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).</p>  <p>Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered Sipahi to be taken into custody on March 19, authorities said.</p>  <p>He was detained at Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo, according to a police report cited by local media.</p>  <p>His extradition is being evaluated by Brazil’s Supreme Court, and Supreme Court Justice Edson Fachin has ruled that his hearing will take place on May 3.</p>  <p>According to public information available on the Brazilian Ministry of Justice's website, Sipahi, who has been living in Brazil since 2007, became a Brazilian citizen on Oct. 13, 2016.</p>  <p>FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup attempt of July 15, 2016 which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.</p>  <p>*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev</p>  <p> 

Palestinians slam Brazil for opening J’lem trade office

                            <p>By Abdelraouf Arnaout and Nour Abu Aisha</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>JERUSALEM (AA) – Both the Ramallah-based Palestinian government and Gaza-based resistance faction Hamas on Monday condemned Brazil's decision to open a diplomatic trade office in Jerusalem.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Adnan al-Husseini, minister of Jerusalem affairs for the Palestinian government, described the move as “a flagrant breach of international [UN] resolutions and a violation of the rights of the Palestinian people and their eternal capital [Jerusalem]”.  </p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Al-Husseini also decried a visit by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to Jerusalem’s Al-Buraq Wall (known by Jews as the “Western Wall”), accusing Brazil of “accepting Israel’s illicit attempts to take over [occupied] East Jerusalem”.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>On Sunday, Bolsonaro arrived in Tel Aviv for a four-day visit. On Monday, he visited the Al-Buraq Wall, located in East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Hamas likewise decried Brazil’s decision to open a representative office in the flashpoint city, which, it asserted, “violates international laws and customs regarding Jerusalem”.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>Bolsonaro’s tour with Netanyahu, the group added, “is seen as a recognition of the legitimacy of the [Israeli] occupation”.</p>  <p><br></p>  <p>A leader of Brazil’s Social Liberal Party, Bolsonaro won presidential elections last October. Not long afterward, Bolsonaro announced plans to relocate Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.</p> 

Turkey to join defense industry expo in Brazil

             By Aysenur Saglam</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - Turkey is scheduled to attend a defense and security expo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, an official statement said on Monday.</p>    <p>Turkey will attend the 12th Latin American Aero and Defense (LAAD) expo between April 2-5, the Presidency of Defense Industries said.</p>    <p>Total of 17 Turkish companies will join the leading Latin American defense and security exhibition, it added.</p>    <p>Armored vehicle platforms, various unmanned land and air vehicles, as well as marine, arm, and electronic systems are expected to be introduced during the expo.</p>    <p>Among products to be showcased will also be ammunition, simulators, military textile and logistic support products manufactured by Turkish defense industry companies.</p>    <p>Turkish Aerospace Industries' T129 ATAK multirole combat helicopter will also be on display at the expo, the statement added.</p>    <p>The T129 ATAK is a next-generation, tandem and two-seat, twin engine helicopter, specifically designed for attack and reconnaissance.</p>    <p>Defense and security industry representatives, as well as official delegations from various countries are expected to take part in the biennial expo.</p>    <p>In 2017, some 450 international companies and over 37,000 participants attended the LAAD expo.</p>    <p>The LAAD is supported by Brazil’s Defense and Justice Ministry, and military forces, according to its website.</p>  <p> </p>  <p>* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev

UPDATE – Trump says intent on giving Brazil NATO upgrade

            ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT, CHANGES HEADLINE

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is intent on designating Brazil as a "major non-NATO ally," a status upgrade the Latin American nation has been seeking for some time.

Trump further teased during a joint press conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the White House that he is also looking into Brazil's inclusion as a full NATO member country.

In earlier remarks Trump said the United States is looking "very strongly" at granting Brazil some NATO privileges, saying his administration is "very inclined to do that."

"We are going to look at that very, very strongly in terms of whether it’s NATO or something having to do with alliance," he said.

Should Brazil clear the lengthy process of ascension it would become the first Latin American nation to join NATO. All of the 29 NATO allies are in North America and Europe.

Trump has long been a critic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, calling on other member states to shoulder more of its defense burden by increasing military spending.

The president further said he is supporting Brazil's bid to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a multinational organization geared towards bolstering economic development.

Trump says looking at giving Brazil NATO privileges

            By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - The United States is looking &quot;very strongly&quot; at granting Brazil some NATO privileges, President Donald Trump said Tuesday.</p>  <p>&quot;We're very inclined to do that,&quot; Trump told reporters at the White House, where he was meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. &quot;We are going to look at that very, very strongly in terms of whether it’s NATO or something having to do with alliance.&quot;</p>  <p>The president did not elaborate on which privileges he is weighing, and his comments appear to leave open the option that whatever is under consideration could be a bilateral benefit separate from the transatlantic alliance. </p>  <p>Trump has long been a critic of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, calling on other member states to shoulder more of its defense burden by increasing military spending.</p>  <p>Brazil, however, has been seeking an upgrade within the alliance to the status of &quot;major non-NATO ally&quot;.</p>  <p>The president further said he is supporting Brazil's bid to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, a multinational organization geared towards bolstering economic advancement. </p>  <p>Trump and Bolsonaro are expected to discuss trade, the situation in Venezuela and other matters during their meeting. The leaders are also slated to address the media later Tuesday during a joint press conference.

Brazilian president to visit Israel on March 31: Report

            By Abdel Raouf Arnaout<br>

JERUSALEM (AA) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will visit Israel on March 31 for a four-day visit to the self-proclaimed Jewish state, according to media reports.

The visit, which will be Bolsonaro’s first to Israel, will come one week before Knesset elections slated for April 9.

The Brazilian president’s upcoming visit has since been confirmed by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Brazil late last year, where he met with the country’s newly-elected president.

During the visit, Netanyahu called for a "new era" in bilateral relations.

Israel is also reportedly exerting pressure on Brasilia to relocate its Israel embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

According to recent media reports, however, Bolsonaro “has yet to make a decision in this regard”.

UPDATE – Brazil: US can’t use our territory to invade Venezuela

            ADDS LIMA GROUP'S STATEMENT</p>  <p>By Muhammed Emin Canik</p>  <p>BUENOS AIRES (AA) – Brazil’s vice president said Monday his country will not allow the United States to intervene militarily in Venezuela from Brazilian territory. </p>  <p>Brazil is opposed to any military intervention by the U.S. in Venezuela, said Hamilton Mourao, speaking during a meeting of the Lima Group in Bogota, Colombia.</p>  <p>The group is a bloc of 14 Latin American nations focused on finding a peaceful resolution to Venezuela's longstanding crisis.</p>  <p>During a televised interview in Brazil, Mourao also said his country is working to ensure that the crisis in Venezuela does not turn into an armed conflict in the region.</p>  <p>His comments come a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, saying time is running out for his administration.</p>  <p>&quot;We’re very hopeful in the days and weeks and months ahead the Maduro regime will understand that the Venezuelan people have made its days numbered,&quot; Pompeo said in an interview on ‘Fox News Sunday’.</p>  <p>- ‘Crime against humanity’</p>  <p>In the Bogota summit's statement, the Lima Group called on the International Criminal Court to consider Maduro's refusal to allow in humanitarian aid as a &quot;crime against humanity&quot;.</p>  <p>The group condemned Maduro for depriving people of food, medicine and basic needs.</p>  <p>Also, the countries that are still cooperating with Venezuela will be called on to help resolve the political crisis in the country, the statement said. </p>  <p>Emphasizing that Venezuela’s self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido will be supported permanently, the statement called on Venezuela’s judiciary and armed forces to recognize Guaido.</p>  <p>&quot;The transition to democracy must be conducted peacefully by Venezuelans within the framework of the constitution and international law, supported by political and diplomatic measures, without the use of force,&quot; it said.  </p>  <p>Mexico did not participate in the meeting despite being in the Lima Group.</p>  <p>- Venezuelan crisis</p>  <p>At least four people were killed and 200 others injured Saturday during anti-government protests in Venezuela. Fifty-one people were also arrested as they clashed with security forces at the Colombian border.</p>  <p>The protesters were calling for the government to open borders and allow U.S. humanitarian aid into Venezuela.</p>  <p>Asked if military force will be used against Maduro, Pompeo said all options are on the table.</p>  <p>&quot;We are going to do the things that need to be done to make sure that the Venezuelan people’s voice [is heard], that democracy reigns and that there is a brighter future for the people of Venezuela,&quot; he added.</p>  <p>Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.</p>  <p>Tensions escalated when Juan Guaido, who heads Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself acting president on Jan. 23, a move which was supported by the U.S. and many European and Latin American countries.</p>  <p>Turkey, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China and Bolivia reiterated their support for Maduro, who vowed to cut all diplomatic and political ties with the U.S.