DC Roundup: Tech Week, Tech Leaders to White House, Kushner to Mideast, Perry on Climate Change

Developments in Washington, D.C., on Monday include President Donald Trump announcing plans to overhaul the federal government’s technology meeting with technology industry leaders, Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry saying he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming, and the president’s son-in-law heading to the Mideast to continue peace talks with Israel and the Palestinians. 

​Tech Titans Gather at White House to Modernize Government — U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday announced he wants to see up to $1 trillion of tax savings over the next decade by a “sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology.” Trump told the American Technology Advisory Council in the White House State Dining Room that “we’re embracing big change, bold thinking and outsider perspectives to transform government and make it the way it should be and at far less cost.” A slew of high-tech heavyweights, some of whom have criticized President Donald Trump’s policies, huddled at the White House on Monday as the administration kicked off its “technology week.”


​Havana: Trump’s Cuba Policy Speech ‘Grotesque Spectacle’ — Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called Trump’s recent speech on Cuba a “grotesque spectacle” that will only serve to strengthen the revolution, and criticized the Trump administration’s decision to roll back some Obama-era policies toward the island nation. “Cuba will make no concessions on its sovereignty and its independence,” Rodriguez told reporters in Vienna on Monday. “[Cuba] will not negotiate over its principles and will never accept [imposed] conditions.” The comments were in response to Trump’s speech last Friday in Miami, which is home to a large Cuban exile community. 

Trump Welcomes President of Panama to White House — Trump welcomed the president of Panama to the White House on Monday, pointing to the United States’ role in the construction of the Panama Canal at the start of his first face-to-face meeting with the Central American leader. Trump met with Panama President Juan Carlos Varela for a discussion on organized crime, immigration, drug trafficking and economic issues. 


​As South Korea Seeks Reconciliation With the North, What’s in it for the US? — As South Korea’s new leadership works toward easing long strained inter-Korean relations, U.S. experts are eyeing the country’s conciliatory overtures to the Kim Jong Un regime, worried that a possible resumption of the Kaesong Industrial Complex could provoke discord with the Trump administration. Shortly after South Korean President Moon Jae-in named Cho Myoung-gyun to be his North Korea point man on June 13, Cho, who played a key role in launching the now-stalled economic cooperation project, told reporters, “Operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex should be restored. I will speak after thoroughly looking into the details.”


​Obstacles at Bay, Beijing Steps up Control Over Disputed South China Sea — Beijing has reached a new peak in its bid to control the widely disputed South China Sea after pacifying rivals, keeping Washington away and building out artificial islands that are ready for military hardware. China will be able to keep three fighter-jet regiments on the same number of islets that it has constructed in the sea, according to a June 6 Pentagon report. China’s estimated 3,200 acres (1,294 hectares) of reclaimed land in the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea will be used largely for military installations, a think tank forecast in March.


​US Energy Chief: Carbon Dioxide Not Prime Driver of Warming — Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming, a statement at odds with mainstream scientific consensus but in line with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” whether carbon emissions are primarily responsible for climate change, Perry said no, adding that “most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”


​Kushner Heading to Mideast for Peace Talks — Jared Kushner is traveling to the Middle East this week to continue work toward a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. A White House official said the senior aide and son-in-law to President Donald Trump will arrive on Wednesday for meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s international envoy, will arrive on Monday.

BRICS Meeting Highlights Climate Change, Trade, Terrorism — Climate change, trade and terrorism were highlighted Monday at a Beijing meeting of foreign affairs officials from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known collectively as the BRICS nations. The five nations are seeking to further align their views on key issues at a time when President Donald Trump is withdrawing the U.S. from multilateral arrangements such as the Paris climate accords and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

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