Brother of American detained in Russia explains why Paul Whelan has passports from 4 countries

Brother of American

The brother of the American detained in Moscow on suspicion of spying spoke to Fox News Monday afternoon about the surreal case of his twin, including his detainment in a notorious Russian prison and the reasons behind his passports from four countries.

“I think Paul’s case proves that truth can be stranger than fiction,” Paul Whelan’s twin, David, told Shep Smith on “Shepard Smith Reporting.”

When Whelan was arrested in late December, he was identified only as an American. Last week, it emerged that he also holds British, Irish and Canadian citizenship.

His brother told Smith: “I’m not sure he actually travelled on all of those passports to Russia. I know he’s been to Russia many times.”

He said his family members were immigrants multiple times. The brothers started out with two passports, English and Canadian. David said his brother got the third, American one, when he came to the U.S. to become a Marine. He received an Irish passport to honor his heritage, when the Irish changed a law to allow grandchildren to get passports.

On Monday the Russian Foreign Ministry said Paul may receive visits from diplomats from the three other countries whose citizenship he holds. U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. visited him in prison last week.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the state news agency RIA-Novosti that the other countries have applied for consular visits and “if the arrestee confirms that he wants these visits, they will be arranged.”

Whelan, the head of global security for a Michigan-based auto parts supplier, was in Moscow to attend the wedding of a friend from the Marine Corps when he disappeared, David previously said.

David Whelan noted the U.S. Embassy has indicated it will continue to lead on consular efforts, since Paul entered Russia on a U.S. passport.

The multiple passports his brother has, and the countries involved, have provided his family with a silver lining. He said he feels his brother is safe and protected as they work on the next steps for his release.

Trump pushes for breakthrough peace deal between Kosovo, Serbia

Trump pushes

The Trump administration is working to score what it hopes to be another foreign policy win, this time by encouraging leaders from Serbia and Kosovo to sign a peace agreement in a ceremony that could take place at the White House.

A source confirmed to Fox News a report that Kosovo President Hashim Thaci recently traveled to Germany and met with U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell to discuss a deal that would lower tariffs on Serb goods, and in general lead to a lessening of tensions. Problems between Kosovo and Serbia – a longtime issue – have recently become so tense that some fear armed conflict may break out.

“President Trump gave both Kosovo and Serbia a clear path towards getting greater U.S. support,” a U.S. official told Fox News. “He wants them to come up with a mutually agreed upon solution. As long as they both agree, then he will support it. Unlike the European position, everything is on the table for the U.S.

Uneasy relations between Serbia and its former province have simmered since Kosovo declared independence in 2008, nine years after a NATO-led military campaign led drove the Serbs from Kosovo. The NATO action came after a Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign drove hundreds of thousands of Kosovars to neighboring countries, and threatened to engulf the states of the foreign Yugoslavia into war.

Thaci’s meeting with Grenell, who as a former spokesperson for the U.S. delegation to the U.N. and foreign policy expert is intimately familiar with the Kosovo-Serb situation, helped raise the profile of the issue. Grennell is regarded a Trump confidante in Europe who has very effective access to the White House.

Trump recently sent letters to both Thaci and Serb President Aleksandar Vucic, asking they accelerate negotiations in an effort to resolve their impasse. As first reported in the Washington Post, Thaci and Vucic published their versions of the Trump letter online.

“Failure to capi­tal­ize on this unique opportunity would be a tragic setback, as another chance for a comprehensive peace is unlikely to occur again soon,” Trump wrote to the Kosovar leader.

In a statement to the Post, Grenell said he and Thaci “spoke about the importance of making long-term decisions instead of reacting in the short term. I was pleased that he agreed, and committed to work to end the tariffs that were recently imposed on Serbian products,” Grenell said in a statement to The Post. “This move would help send the right signals that he is serious about negotiating and help build trust between the parties.”

Trump pushes

Bringing the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia together for a White House ceremony would be seen as a major accomplishment. The deep-seated animosity between the Serbs and Kosovars, who are ethnic Albanians and are predominately Muslim, stretches back centuries.

One expert welcomed the increased U.S. attention on the Kosovo-Serbia issue, particularly in the context of the larger Balkans framework.

“The rising tensions between Serbia and Kosovo — and the way in which Serbia and Russia are working together to foment instability in neighboring Bosnia – pose a real threat to regional peace,” said Daniel Baer, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and advisor to Foreign Policy for America.

“Obviously, offering the White House as a setting is offering a big carrot, but if the administration can use that carrot to achieve a genuine peace between Serbia and Kosovo, including recognition of Kosovo by Belgrade, that would be a significant step forward.”

Kim Jong Un makes 4th trip to China, Chinese state media reports

Kim Jong

Hours after a mysterious North Korean train was spotted crossing into China late Monday, Chinese state media confirmed that leader Kim Jong Un was making his first visit of the year to see Chinese President Xi Jinping. The visit comes amid talks of a possible second U.S.-North Korea summit.

Rumors about Kim’s visit to China began late Monday local time when a North Korean train painted green carrying a “senior North Korean official” was described crossing over the North Korea-China border, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported. Heavy security was spotted in the train station in the Chinese border city of Dandong just after 10 p.m.

North Korea rarely confirms visits until they have been completed.

This is Kim’s first foreign trip of the year and his fourth overall to China. The despot made his first visit last year in March — which officials first confirmed days after a mystery train was spotted arriving and leaving a train station in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Kim met with Xi again in May prior to the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore.

NORTH KOREA’S TOP DIPLOMAT IN ITALY DEFECTED, EMBARRASSING KIM JONG UN

The reported meeting Monday came a day after President Trump told reporters a second location for the second U.S.-North Korea summit is in negotiations.

“It will be announced probably in the not too distant future,” Trump said Sunday about the location of the second summit. “They do want to meet and we want to meet and we’ll see what happens.”

Trump said there’s “very good dialogue” between the U.S. and North Korea despite the recent stalemate in denuclearization talks.

North Korea and China have worked to maintain friendly ties amid thawing tensions between the Hermit Kingdom and South Korea and the United States. The North Korean leader also met with Xi after the June summit with Trump.