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BEIJING (AP) — China is defending its handling of trademark applications from President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her company, saying that all such requests are handled fairly.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang was asked about the trademarks Wednesday, a day after a href=’https://www.apnews.com/d9e34f23a64947d99e4a7d757012c509/Ivanka’s-biz-prospers-as-politics-mixes-with-business’The Associated Press reported/a that Ivanka Trump had won provisional approval for at least five marks since her father’s January inauguration. Three of those approvals were granted April 6, the day Ivanka Trump and her husband sat next to Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife for dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Lu said that China follows the law in granting trademarks and “the principle of giving equal protection to foreign trademark holders.”

Asked about the timing of the April 6 approvals, Lu said: “There are perhaps some media engaging in hyping certain gossip to hint at something undisclosed. I can tell you that they will never succeed.”

Beyond the provisionally approved trademarks, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC has 16 registered trademarks in China and more than 30 pending applications, according to China’s Trademark Office database. They collectively cover a wide range of goods and services, including cosmetics, jewelry, leather handbags, luggage, clothes, shoes, retail, spa and beauty services. Other countries where the company has pending and registered trademarks include Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Israel, Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Sales of Ivanka Trump’s brand, which she no longer manages but still owns, hit record levels in 2017 by some measures despite boycotts and several stores limiting her merchandise. U.S. imports, almost all from China, shot up an estimated 166 percent last year, according to Panjiva Inc., which tracks international imports to the United States.

In a statement Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Ivanka Trump brand said the 2017 Chinese trademarks were filed defensively to prevent counterfeiters or squatters from using her name.

Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are trusted advisers to the president. Criminal conflict-of-interest law prohibits federal officials from participating in government matters that could impact their own financial interest or that of their spouses. Some argue that the more Ivanka Trump’s business broadens its scope, the more it threatens to encroach on the couple’s ability to deliver credible advice on core issues like trade, intellectual property and the value of the Chinese currency.

Asked about Ivanka Trump’s role in U.S.-China relations, Lu said: “We always think highly of the people who are committed to promoting China-U.S. friendship and cooperation, whether they are from the government or society, and we commend their efforts.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s top aides will huddle Tuesday to discuss whether or not the U.S. should remain part of the Paris Climate accord — a global effort to cut down on climate-warming carbon emissions.

Officials will be discussing their options, with the goal of providing a recommendation to the president about the path forward, according to an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity, despite the president’s criticism of the use of anonymous sources.



The non-binding international agreement was forged in Paris in December 2015 and allowed rich and poor countries to set their own goals to reduce carbon dioxide. It went into effect last November after it was ratified by countries, including the U.S. and China.

Trump’s top advisers are currently divided on the issue, with some, including Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, eager for the U.S. to leave the deal.

“Paris is something that we need to really look at closely, because it’s something we need to exit, in my opinion,” Pruitt said in an interview with Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” last week. “It’s a bad deal for America. It was an America second, third or fourth kind of approach.”

Trump pledged during his campaign to pull out of the Paris accord, but has wavered on the issue since he won the presidency.

He told the editorial board of The New York Times in an interview last year that he was, “looking at it very closely…. I have an open mind to it. We’re going to look very carefully.”

Under the agreement, the U.S. pledged to reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2025 by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels, which would be a reduction of about 1.6 billion tons of annual emissions. Besides continuing Obama’s efforts to reduce U.S. heat-trapping gases, Trump has two general options.

One option is to pull the United States out of the non-binding agreement, which Obama enacted without U.S. Senate ratification. It typically takes countries four years to pull out of new international treaties, but because Obama enacted the accord as part of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro treaty, Trump could pull out of the older, broader treaty in one year.

Another option is to just do nothing. Trump could publicly badmouth the treaty, but not formally withdraw from it. If the U.S. stays part of the agreement, which 125 nations or groups of nations have already ratified, and fails to reach its goal, technically nothing happens. There is no climate court, no enforcement action.

And because the agreement already went into force, nothing the United States can do — even pulling out — can nullify the accord. It is in effect.

Nonetheless, a withdrawal or public announcement that the U.S. is abandoning its efforts to fight man-made climate change could spark repercussions individually from other nations, said Nigel Purvis, who was the top U.S. State Department environmental diplomat when George W. Bush pulled out of the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty.

“Any sign that the administration would not be serious will provoke an international reaction that would undermine the administration’s foreign policy,” said Purvis, an international attorney who served in Democratic and Republican administrations. Other countries, he said, take climate change seriously and could retaliate in trade deals or tariffs or balk on negotiations over international security costs.

Trump has already reversed some of former President Obama’s efforts to scale back carbon emissions to try to halt climate change, including restrictions on coal plants and drilling.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer has said the president will make up his mind on the Paris agreement before a summit of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations in Taormina, Italy in late May.

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Follow Colvin and Borenstein on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj and https://twitter.com/borenbears

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PARIS (AP) — Security concerns shook France’s presidential campaign Tuesday as authorities announced arrests in a thwarted attack on the eve of the vote, and candidates urged tougher counterterrorism efforts for a country already under a state of emergency.

Security has already been a strong campaign theme, and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen hardened her tone Tuesday on foreign extremists and border controls while centrist Emmanuel Macron called for national unity and stronger intelligence.



Polls show Le Pen and Macron among four leading candidates with a chance of coming out on top of Sunday’s first round and reaching the May 7 runoff, in an unpredictable vote seen as a bellwether for global populist sentiment.

With security ramped up for the campaign, French police arrested two suspected radicals Tuesday in the southern port city of Marseille and thwarted an attack planned for the coming days, “on the eve of the French presidential election,” the interior minister said.

He gave no details, and it is unclear whether the attack could have targeted a campaign event.

Before the thwarted attack was announced, Le Pen said on RTL radio Tuesday that she would expel foreign extremists and draft army reservists to close France’s borders as soon as she takes office.

“We cannot fight the terrorism that weighs on our country without controlling our borders,” Le Pen said.

Macron struck a tough but conciliatory tone.

He called the arrests a reminder that “the terrorist threat remains very high” especially during the election campaign, and reiterated calls for pressure on internet companies to better police extremism online.

But he added that “terrorism … is a challenge that calls upon us more than anything else to come together, because the terrorists wish nothing more than our division.”

Macron and conservative Francois Fillon have pledged more robust counterterrorism efforts but remain committed to Europe’s open borders.

Le Pen also said she would issue an order to freeze long-term visas for a two-week period so the government can verify, among other things, that the recipients aren’t taking jobs away from French citizens.

Le Pen, who has campaigned against immigration and Europe’s open borders, also wants to impose a 10-percent tax on labor contracts that go to foreigners.

The economy is front and center for the candidates, and Macron again pledged Tuesday to redesign famously complex work laws he said are holding back employment.

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PARIS (AP) — The impossible is now possible, French far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said in celebration the morning after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency. But the Trump effect may not bring Le Pen the boost she had once expected.

That’s in part because Trump has not turned out to be the soul mate Le Pen was counting on. Trump bombed Syria and abandoned support for President Bashar Assad, whom Le Pen backs. He alienated Russia even as Le Pen consolidated her alliance with Vladimir Putin. And Trump’s administration has been fraught with internal troubles.

French voters have learned at least one thing from Trump’s surprising victory and Britain’s surprising vote to leave the European Union: They need to be ready for a surprise.

With only six days left before Sunday’s first-round vote, polls show the four leading French candidates are so close in popularity that there’s no clear front-runner. The top two candidates advance to a May 7 runoff.

Le Pen, campaigning against immigration and Europe’s open borders, has a good chance of reaching the runoff but little chance of winning it — at least according to pollsters, who have suffered their own Trump effect after failing to predict his presidency.

Populists elsewhere in Europe have had mixed success in elections since November. Dutch voters rejected firebrand Geert Wilders, favoring the status quo. Bulgarians chose nationalists, and Italians voted against the establishment, while Austrian voters rejected a far right presidential contender.

In France, Trump’s victory has given new focus to Le Pen’s rivals.

Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron is framing himself as a bulwark against the nationalism and protectionism of Trump’s America and Putin’s Russia. He wants to reform the EU from within, he said last week, because “many foreign leaders openly want a weakening of Europe: Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, as well as the main authoritarian leaders of the Middle East.”

Other candidates are warning that Le Pen’s dreams of leaving the EU and the euro would wipe out voters’ savings and devastate the economy. French media pressured Le Pen last week for questioning whether the French state was really responsible for deporting tens of thousands of Jews to death in World War II during the Nazi occupation.

Le Pen enjoyed a boost from the Trump phenomenon — the rise of anti-establishment sentiment, especially from working classes who lost out from the globalization that transformed the world over the past generation. Le Pen has courted that electorate for years and saw Trump’s election as vindication of that strategy.

Hours after Trump was elected, Le Pen said, “What happened tonight is not the end of the world, it’s the end of a (certain) world.” She called his victory and the Brexit vote “democratic choices that bury the ancient order and are as many stones to build the world of tomorrow.”

She also plays to security fears after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks on France.

But the Trump presidency has shown that implementing populist promises isn’t as easy as it seems. And Trump’s own reversals have frustrated Le Pen.

“We have seen that Trump’s latest positions are so contrary to what Marine Le Pen had hoped,” said Thierry de Montbrial, president of the French Institute of International Relations. Nationalist candidates “no longer recognize themselves” in Trump anymore.

Le Pen distanced herself from Trump after the U.S. missile strikes on Syria earlier this month, angry that he is trying to be “the world’s policeman.”

Trump’s reversal on NATO — which he once called obsolete — also frustrates Le Pen. She wants to pull France out of its command structure and sees the alliance as an unnecessary threat to Russia now that the Soviet Union is defunct.

“If there is a Trump effect on the campaign, it is that in many minds, it’s assumed that anything is possible,” said Emmanuel Riviere, director of Kantar Public’s polling in France. “It’s not unreasonable to have a victory of a candidate who is improbably excessive, and unexpected.”

Le Pen’s electorate is not an exact mirror of Trump’s, though they both attract support from “white people whose social standing has fallen,” Riviere said.

She doesn’t have a powerful party machine like that of Trump’s Republicans, and has less support from older generations who supported Trump. But Le Pen enjoys more support from youth.

Riviere said any lingering Trump effect on the French campaign could also favor other candidates, such as far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon, who rails against free trade. Or conservative Francois Fillon, who has adopted Trump-style criticism of the media and a justice system he said is conspiring against him.

“We are in a very unprecedented moment in French politics,” Riviere said. “This presidential term will be something we have never seen before.”

 

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — On Christianity’s most joyful day, Pope Francis lamented the horrors generated by war and hatred, delivering an Easter Sunday message that also decried the “latest vile” attack on civilians in Syria.

Both in his impromptu homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Square and later in his formal “Urbi et Orbi” Easter message delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis reflected on a litany of suffering in the world, including wars, oppressive regimes, human trafficking, corruption, famine and domestic violence.

He encouraged people to hold fast in their “fearful hearts” to faith, acknowledging that many people wonder where God is amid so much evil and suffering in the world.

Some 60,000 people, including multi-national throngs of pilgrims and tourists, endured tight anti-terrorism security checks — and, later, a brief downpour — to hear Francis and receive his blessing.

The crowd size, cited by the Vatican security forces, was smaller in comparison to some other Easters, when about 100,000 turned out for the occasion.

After Mass, Francis toured the square in his open-topped, white popemobile and waved back to well-wishers.

In his balcony address, Francis prayed that God would sustain those working to comfort and help the civilian population in Syria, “prey to a war that continues to sow horror and death.”

He cited the explosion Saturday that ripped through a bus depot in the Aleppo area where evacuees were awaiting transfer, killing at least 100 people.

“Yesterday saw the latest vile attack on fleeing refugees,” the pope said, also praying for peace in the Holy Land, Iraq and Yemen.

Separately, in a letter he sent to the bishop of Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, whose name he chose for his papacy, the pope decried the “scandalous reality of a world still marked by the divide between the endless number of indigent” and the “tiny portion of those who possess the majority of riches and presume to decide the fates of humanity.”

Francis has repeatedly championed the dignity of migrants fleeing war, persecution or poverty. On Sunday he recalled “all those forced to leave their homelands as a result of armed conflicts, terrorist attacks, famine and oppressive regimes.”

The church’s first pontiff from Latin America voiced concern over the “political and social tensions” in the world as well as the “scourge of corruption” on his home continent. Francis also mentioned hostilities and famine plaguing parts of Africa.

Speaking of Europe’s problems, Francis cited the continued conflict and bloodshed in Ukraine and prayed for hope for those struggling with high unemployment, especially young people.

Traditionally, the pope gives no homily during the late-morning Easter Mass, saving his reflections for the “Urbi et Orbi” message at noon.

But Francis broke with that tradition, giving an off-the-cuff homily during Mass about what he described as a nagging question for many faithful: Why are there so many tragedies and wars if Jesus has risen from the dead, a belief that Christians celebrate each Easter?

“The Church never ceases to say, faced with our defeats, our closed and fearful hearts, ‘stop, the Lord is risen.’ But if the Lord is risen, how come these things happen?” Francis asked.

He gestured toward the potted hyacinths, tulips and daffodils, which came from the Netherlands, and which were arranged in neat rows on the steps leading to the church.

Easter “isn’t a party with lots of flowers. This is pretty, but it’s not this, it’s more than this,” Francis said.

He said having faith on Easter gives sense in the middle of “so many calamities: the sense of looking beyond, the sense of saying, look, there isn’t a wall, there’s a horizon, there’s life, there’s joy.”

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Frances D’Emilio is on twitter at www.twitter.com/fdemilio

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LONDON (AP) — British police are investigating an acid attack at a London club that led to a mass evacuation.

Police said Monday 12 people were treated in hospitals for burns. None of the injuries was said to be life-threatening. Two men in their 20s were in serious but stable condition.

Police say the problem at the Mangle nightclub in east London started with a dispute between two groups of people that escalated when a male suspect sprayed a “noxious substance” directly at two men.

Roads in the area were closed and a hazardous material response team rushed to the scene.

The substance hasn’t yet been identified.

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A North Korean missile exploded during launch Sunday, U.S. and South Korean officials said, a high-profile failure that came as a powerful U.S. aircraft supercarrier approached the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.

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MOSCOW (AP) — International organizations on Thursday urged the Russian government to investigate the reported abuse and killings of gay men in Russia’s southern republic of Chechnya.

The respected Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported earlier this month that police in the predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya have rounded up more than 100 men suspected of homosexuality and that at least three of them have been killed.

Chechen authorities have denied the reports, while the spokesman for leader Ramzan Kadyrov insisted there were no gay people in Chechnya.

The United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights called upon the Russian government in a statement “to put an end to the persecution of people perceived to be gay or bisexual … who are living in a climate of fear fueled by homophobic speeches by local authorities.”

Separately, the director of the human rights office at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Michael Georg Link, said Thursday that Moscow must “urgently investigate the alleged disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment” of gay men in Chechnya.

After two separatist wars in the 1990s, predominantly Muslim Chechnya became increasingly conservative under late President Akhmat Kadyrov and then his son Ramzan.

Novaya Gazeta also reported this month that Chechen authorities are running a secret prison in the town of Argun where men suspected of being gay are kept and tortured.

Several hundred people rallied on Wednesday evening outside the Russian embassy in London, waving rainbow flags. One placard read “Love is love” in Russian.

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BEIRUT (AP) — A misdirected airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition earlier this week killed 18 allied fighters battling the Islamic State group in northern Syria, the U.S. military said Thursday.

U.S. Central Command said coalition aircraft were given the wrong coordinates by their partner forces, the predominantly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, for a strike intended to target IS militants south of their Tabqa stronghold, near the extremists’ de facto capital, Raqqa.

The strike hit an SDF position instead, killing 18. Central Command said the strike was launched Tuesday.

Several nations have lent their air power to the U.S.-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State group. It was not clear which air force was behind the strike.

The SDF acknowledged the strike on Thursday, saying a number of its fighters were killed and wounded.

The SDF-linked Hawar News Agency reported the group was holding funerals for 17 of its fighters in the border town of Tal al-Abyad, though it did not link them to the strike. An activist-run group, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, says three days of mourning have been declared for the town. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 25 SDF fighters were killed in the last two days of battle.

The SDF meanwhile announced the launch of a fourth phase of their campaign to capture Raqqa, a Euphrates River city that is home to 300,000 people.

The SDF, with U.S.-led air and ground support, has surrounded Tabqa, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Raqqa. They say they are working to clear Islamic State militants out of Jalab Valley, north of Raqqa.

The SDF says it wants to isolate Raqqa before attacking it. Their closest position is less than 8 kilometers (5 miles) northeast of the city. But the countryside south of Raqqa is still under IS control. It is unclear how many stages are planned for the campaign.

In a separate development, the international chemical weapons watchdog is testing samples from a suspected nerve gas attack that killed at least 87 people in Syria last week and could produce a report on the matter within three weeks, the British delegation to the commission said Thursday.

The report comes one day after Russia vetoed a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a speedy probe into the April 4 attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which has been widely blamed on government forces. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said the veto left Moscow, a key ally of the Syrian government, with “a lot to prove.”

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has a standing fact-finding mission on Syria to investigate alleged chemical weapons attacks, but does not apportion blame. The OPCW’s executive council held a session of its executive council on Thursday to address the attack on Khan Sheikhoun, in the northern rebel-held province of Idlib.

Britain’s delegation to the OPCW tweeted from the executive session that the “Fact Finding Mission is working to gather evidence” and has already started testing samples in a lab.

The U.S. blamed the Syrian government for the attack and fired 59 missiles at an air base in central Syria in response, killing nine people.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he expected the OPCW to conduct an extensive probe into the attack, and insisted the organization visit both Khan Sheikhoun and the air base struck by U.S. missiles.

Russia has said chemicals were released in Khan Sheikhoun when a Syrian airstrike hit an insurgent arms factory that contained chemical weapons. Syria has denied ever using chemical weapons.

The Syrian army said hundreds of Islamic State fighters as well as civilians were killed when a U.S.-led coalition airstrike hit a militant position in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.

It said white smoke billowing from the area of the strike turned yellow, “most likely because of the explosion of a large warehouse containing large quantities of toxic substances.” It said that the airstrike showed that militants have chemical weapons in their possession.

Opposition activist Omar Abu Laila, who is from Deir el-Zour and currently lives in Europe, denied that report. Abu Laila is with Deir Ezzor 24, an activist group that has reporters throughout the eastern province.

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Associated Press writers Sylvia Hui in London and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

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UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia vetoes a UN resolution condemning the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria and urging a speedy investigation.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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