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ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Amidst speculation that a Trump administration will dismantle the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s president declared on Tuesday that his country would “resist” any proposed change to the agreement.

Hassan Rouhani, speaking at the University of Tehran, said that “Americans” will try to pressure Iran, but that his country will “resist this and find answers."

The nuclear deal, referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), lifted international sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits placed on Iran’s nuclear program.

Days after the historic agreement was reached in July of 2015, then-Republican primary candidate Donald Trump tweeted that the deal was “a direct national security threat.” The president-elect has also called the agreement “terrible” and “the stupidest deal of all time,” and Vice President-elect Mike Pence has vowed the deal would be “ripped up.”

Rouhani -- who never mentioned Trump by name but referred to him as “some man…elected in the U.S.” -- suspected Trump may desire to weaken or destroy JCPOA.

“Do you suppose we will allow that? Will our nation allow that?” he asked the crowd, which at various times chanted “death to America” in Farsi.

Rouhani also accused the U.S. Congress of already violating the deal by voting for an extension of American sanctions against Iran. He said if President Obama approves the extension “it will be a flagrant violation of the JCPOA and we will react to it with the strongest possible means.”

Trump has suggested he would “renegotiate” the deal, which would involve convincing all five foreign signatories and Iran to go back to the negotiating table to rework an agreement that took years to reach. Most analysts agree that’s not realistic.

Dismantling the deal would require Trump to work with Congress to enact measures to undermine it, such as re-imposing U.S.-based sanctions that were lifted. Rouhani’s comments on Tuesday signal he would not accept such a change in the agreement, pushing Iran to walk away from the nuclear terms.

A Trump administration could also attempt to dismantle it by more strictly enforcing the existing agreement, closely monitoring Iran so that the slightest failure to meet its obligations effectively cancels the deal. As the State Department said last month, "the agreement is valid only as long as all parties uphold it."

Obama has said that Trump is going to face the reality that the Iran deal is working and that it should remain intact.

"To unravel a deal that is working and preventing Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons would be hard to explain, particularly if the alternative would be to have them freed from any obligations and to go ahead and have them pursue a weapon," Obama said.

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Chris Jackson/Getty Images(TORONTO) -- Prince Harry jetted from his Caribbean tour Sunday to see his girlfriend Meghan Markle in Toronto.

Harry, 32, had been scheduled to fly directly back to London at the conclusion of his 15-day, seven-nation royal tour. Instead, he diverted to Toronto, where Markle, 35, films the USA network legal drama Suits.

Harry, the fifth-in-line to the British throne, is due to attend an engagement in London on Wednesday so his trip to Toronto will be short.

Markle was spotted in Toronto, prior to Harry's arrival, grocery shopping and carrying flowers she purchased from a florist. Tabloid outlets also reported that blacked-out SUVs were spotted outside Markle's home in Toronto this week.

Harry and Markle have yet to be photographed together but the actress is known to drop hints on her social media accounts. Over the weekend, she posted a photo of her dog in a Union Jack flag sweater and earlier this fall she posted photos of spooning bananas and flowers in a hotel room.

Markle, who has been dating Harry since the summer, was spotted visiting the prince in London in November. That same month, Kensington Palace made an unprecedented statement acknowledging that Markle was indeed Harry's girlfriend and pleading for privacy.

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Stockbyte/Thinkstock(TOKYO) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday that the U.S. will return some land on its military base in Okinawa back to the Japanese government.

Carter made the announcement at a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

The Japanese government said it will build six helicopter landing zones and access roads so that U.S. forces can continue to train and operate at the base.

"Today, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Japanese Prime Minister Abe will announce the intent to return part of the Northern Training Area in Okinawa, Japan to the Government of Japan by the end of this year," a senior defense official told ABC News.

Residents have grown increasingly frustrated with the U.S. military presence on Okinawa, fueled by a series of incidents involving American service members stationed there. Large crowds gathered on the small island over the summer to protest a U.S. contractor's alleged rape and murder of a local Japanese woman.

In March of 2016, an American sailor was arrested on a charge of raping a Japanese woman. And just before the March incident, Stars and Stripes reported that a 33-year-old lieutenant in the U.S. Navy was arrested for allegedly groping a 19-year-old Japanese woman on an airplane and punching her multiple times in the head.

The official said the agreement marks the largest land return by the United States to Japan since 1972.

The official called it "a positive development for the alliance, demonstrating the ongoing commitment of both governments to the realignment of U.S. forces."

A formal ceremony for the return will take place on Dec. 21 and 22.


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Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor with President Obama later this month.

Abe will become the first sitting Japanese leader to visit the site of Japan's 1941 attack on the U.S. Naval base that prompted the United States to join World War II 75 years ago.

"The President will ... accompany Prime Minister Abe to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor to honor those killed," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced Monday. "The two leaders’ visit will showcase the power of reconciliation that has turned former adversaries into the closest of allies, united by common interests and shared values."

Abe's historic visit comes after President Obama earlier this year visited Hiroshima, the site of the U.S. atomic bombing on Japan in 1945, in another first.

Abe's visit to Hawaii is planned for Dec. 27.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President-elect Donald Trump's unprecedented phone call with the leader of Taiwan on Friday, followed by his anti-China tweets on Sunday, signal strongly that upon taking office next month he could seek to deviate further from America's long-standing "One-China" policy.

Trump's phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday (which he says was initiated by Taiwan) prompted headlines across the U.S. that Trump had broken with decades-old policy and even forced the White House to respond and affirm its commitment to current policy.

Secretary of State John Kerry even said over the weekend that it "would be helpful" if the president-elect's transition team consulted with the State Department before speaking with foreign leaders.

So, what is the U.S. position on China and Taiwan and why exactly is it so delicate?

One China, Briefly

Since the signing of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, it's been the official policy of the United States to recognize Taiwan as part of China.

"The United States does not support Taiwan independence," reads the State Department's own fact sheet updated just this past September. But, it goes on, "maintaining strong, unofficial relations with Taiwan is a major U.S. goal, in line with the U.S. desire to further peace and stability in Asia."

In fact, Taiwan is the United States' ninth-largest trading partner, and according to State Department figures, Taiwan employed more than 12,000 workers in the United States and paid them nearly $1 billion. The One China policy amounts to a delicate balance between respecting China's claim to its territory and maintaining close ties to Taiwan.

Missiles Pointed

The U.S. commitment to Taiwan also permits the sale of defensive weapons, and just last year the U.S. sold Taiwan $1.83 billion worth of them, most of which Taipei uses to defend itself from a potential provocations from Beijing.

That last package, the first of its kind in four years, included two Oliver Hazard Perry class Navy frigates, Javelin anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles, anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-ship systems, among other things.

Since 1979, the U.S. carried out $12 billion in weapons sales to Taiwan, and Beijing voices its opposition every time.

David McKeeby, at spokesman in the State Department's bureau of political-military affairs, told ABC News Monday that the U.S is constantly reviewing Taiwan's defensive needs and requests and will continue to do so. "We do not consult Beijing about our military cooperation with or arms sales to Taiwan," McKeeby said.

Despite the weapons sales and the importance of good relations emphasized by both sides, Taiwan is not a treaty ally with the United States and the U.S. has no obligation to defend it in the event it were ever attacked.

Trump's Approach

ABC News learned Monday that Trump's congratulatory call from the president of Taiwan last week was expected and likely pre-arranged by people in his transition team. So, while it was a surprise to China and many in the United States government, Trump's advisers are claiming it was calculated.

Trump took a firm stance towards confronting a rising China during his campaign, repeatedly accusing China of manipulating its currency and once claiming “we already have a trade war [with China]," suggesting he doesn't fear an escalation.

He's also floated the idea of imposing major tariffs on Chinese products. “We have the power over China, economic power, and people don’t understand it," Trump said in April.

He also opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership, which effectively leaves the future trade relationship with China undecided.

Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016

their country (the U.S. doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016

China's Response

The Chinese government has yet to issue a public rebuke of the phone call, but the Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters Monday that Beijing has been in contact with Trump’s team since the call and suggested that it made its concerns known directly.

However, the Foreign Ministry does not wield the same power as the party leadership and a more meaningful reaction would come from that office or from the Chinese military.

Those bodies might not offer a response until Trump is actually in office and dictating policy.

China’s state owned English newspaper, the China Daily, published an editorial on Saturday saying “for Trump, it exposed nothing but his and his transition team's inexperience in dealing with foreign affairs.”

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U.S. State Department(ACCRA, Ghana) -- A fake U.S. embassy in the Ghanaian capital of Accra has been issuing counterfeit U.S. visas and false identification documents for about a decade, according to the U.S. State Department.

A recent online story released by the State Department's Diplomatic Security public affairs office detailed how this fake embassy's long criminal history finally ended this past summer when the Regional Security Office, in co-operation with Ghanaian authorities, shut down the operation.

The article began circulating widely over the weekend and a State Department official confirmed the report Monday. Department officials insist that -- to their knowledge -- no one who obtained a counterfeit visa was able to enter the U.S.

The building that housed the fake embassy flew the American flag three days of the week and featured a photo of President Obama inside. Flyers and billboards in Ghana and neighboring Cote d'Ivoire and Togo advertised their fraudulent services for the cost of $6,000.

An investigation found that the operation was run by Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings, as well as a Ghanaian attorney practicing immigration and criminal law. The State Department said Turkish citizens who spoke English and Dutch posed as "consular officers."

They paid off corrupt officials when suspicions arose over their illegal activities. Those corrupt officials also provided real bank documents so they could be altered by the criminals.

An informant tipped off the Regional Security Office that a fake U.S. embassy and a fake Netherlands embassy were operating in Accra. At the time, diplomatic security agents were looking into a separate fraud investigation under "Operation Spartan Vanguard," which works to address trafficking and fraud plaguing the U.S. embassy in Ghana and the region more broadly.

"The investigation identified the main architects of the criminal operation, and two satellite locations (a dress shop and an apartment building) used for operations," the State Department article said. "The fake embassy did not accept walk-in visa appointments; instead, they drove to the most remote parts of West Africa to find customers. They would shuttle the customers to Accra, and rent them a room at a hotel nearby. The Ghanaian organized crime ring would shuttle the victims to and from the fake embassies. Locating the document vendor within the group led investigators to uncover the satellite locations and key players."

A series of raids led to the arrest of several suspects and collected evidence that included a laptop, cell phones, 150 passports from 10 countries, legitimate and counterfeit visas, and counterfeit identity documents.

The Ghanaian police plan to pursue the arrest of several other suspects still at large, including the Turkish organized crime group, according to the State Department article.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said during Monday's news briefing that the department was not aware of anyone who attempted to use the counterfeit visas to gain entry into the U.S.

Toner elaborated on how the criminals were able to produce fraudulent documents, saying they obtained a handful of real Ghanaian and foreign passports that were either lost, stolen or sold. Fewer than ten of those contained expired U.S. visas, which the criminals then used as models for counterfeit U.S. visas.

"The visas in question were not stolen from the U.S. embassy," he said.

Toner emphasized the difficulty in producing counterfeit U.S. visas, calling them a "highly secured document" with numerous security features.

As a result of the fake U.S. embassy raid in Accra, as well as other raids identified through Operation Spartan Vanguard, the export of fraudulent documents has decreased by 70 percent in West Africa, according to the State Department article. They views these types of operations as essential to stopping these criminal networks who produce passport and visa fraud, adding, "This is only the beginning."

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Eleonora Costi(ROME) -- Italian photographer Eleonora Costi’s project highlights abandoned places.

"I traveled all through Italy seeking for places filled with stories and lived life, left forgotten and to the power of dust," she said.

Her work features everything from houses, still furnished with richly painted large rooms, to former psychiatric hospitals; from churches to border schools and monasteries.

Shot across Italy, some of the places she features collapsed after earthquakes and the old owners were forced to abandon them. In others, it seems, the people just walked away.

"I'm trying to revive with my photos saving them from oblivion and decay," Costi said.

Costi has found objects like photo albums, medicine, pianos and books. Some places have been looted by vandals, some virtually untouched.

"It's exciting, but also sad to find the objects from previous owners, dinner tables, ready beds and closets full of clothes."

She said she hopes to preserve these places through the images and evoke "stunning emotions, astonishment and uneasiness" for viewers.

"This is the only way to breathe new life into these places," she said.

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GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images(ALEPPO, Syria) -- Syrian government troops moved deeper into east Aleppo Monday and airstrikes continued to pound the area as medics attempted to treat some of the wounded in makeshift clinics.

Plans are underway meanwhile for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to meet this week in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss a proposed withdrawal of all rebels against the Syrian government from east Aleppo. Lavrov told a news conference Monday that rebels who stay in that area will be treated as terrorists once a deal is reached.

"We will treat them as such, as terrorists, as extremists, and will support a Syrian army operation against those criminal squads," the Russian official said.

A nurse in east Aleppo told ABC News Monday that “yesterday, we escaped death.” The nurse, Baraa, who didn’t give her last name, said that on Sunday, she was stitching a child’s leg wound when the clinic was hit by an airstrike.

“The bombardment started above us like rain,” she said, adding that she ran away from the strikes with some of her friends at the clinic. The child she was treating had been wounded from another airstrike and brought to the clinic for treatment.

“While I was stitching him a brutal airstrike happened. The electricity shut down,” Baraa said. The child is wounded, but not in danger, she said.

On Monday, airstrikes continued to pound east Aleppo. Heavy clashes took place in the al-Shaar neighborhood, where Syrian government troops advanced, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Anas Moughrabieh, a doctor in Michigan with the Syrian American Medical Society, said nurses inside Aleppo have been calling him to say goodbye. A few days ago, he said some nurses tried to reopen east Aleppo’s M2 hospital, which had been out of service. They consulted with him about two patients over the phone.

“One made it to life and the other one was moderately sick,” he said over a messaging app. “I asked them to prematurely give up on the sicker one and I felt bad to tell them it is a luxury now to care for patients with this level of illness with this limited resources. They didn't give up on him until their location was discovered and attacked with barrel and cluster bombs.”

Hamza Khatib, a doctor in east Aleppo who uses a pseudonym, said the hospital where he works has been receiving more than 300 injured people every day.

“The situation is madness,” Khatib told ABC News. “We have lost a lot of lives, most of them are civilians. Now, the regime has managed to take a part of the already besieged city, and a lot of people are crowded in a smaller area. That means that each rocket, each missile will produce a bigger amount of injuries and death.”

He said he had been in east Aleppo since 2012 and the current offensive on the besieged city is the worst he has ever seen.

“We are under attack,” the doctor said. “We have the feeling that the whole world has abandoned us, left us here in Aleppo to be killed brutally with no help at all. We can’t defend ourselves. We can’t do anything. We can’t protect our hospitals. We can’t protect our lives. We can’t protect our patients’ lives. We can’t protect our families’ lives. It’s desperate here.”

Syrian government forces and rebels also clashed in brutal fights in east Aleppo’s al-Zebdieh neighborhood Monday as the government and its allied forces attempted to advance, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Abdulkafi Alhamdo, a media activist in al-Zebdieh, said his neighborhood was probably shelled 100 times in half an hour.

“A massacre maybe just 50 meters away from my house, people on the ground,” he said, adding that some people who came to the area to help were injured when more bombs hit. “No cars dare to come to help them. It’s horrific,” he said.

East Aleppo hasn't received United Nations aid since July. Residents live with little access to water, food, health care or fuel for heating. Some of the people who left east Aleppo neighborhoods that have been seized by the government have moved into Alhamdo's building, he said. On Monday, one of them, a child, knocked on his door.

"He was holding a jug, asking me for clean water, even a cup for his little sister and asked me for a bottle of water just to clean the cups," said Alhamdo. "He said, 'Uncle, I know we are disturbing you with our requests but what should we do?'"

Alhamdo said the boy was about to cry. He said the boy thanked them before leaving with two bottles filled with water.

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Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Alexander Van der Bellen appears to have won the Austrian presidency, defeating Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer.

Austria's presidency is a largely ceremonial post, Hofer had won, he would have become Austria and Western Europe's first far-right head of state since World War II.


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Franco Origlia/Getty Images(ROME) -- Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Sunday he will resign after a referendum defeat.

Italians voted on a proposal that would attempt to streamline Italy's lawmaking process by reducing the powers of the Senate. Renzi had said the reforms would have cut the country's bureaucracy, but many saw the vote as a referendum on the prime minister's centrist government.

Renzi said he would offer his resignation on Monday at a cabinet meeting.

"Good luck to us all," he said according to BBC.

The Italian prime minister's resignation mirrors the exit of David Cameron, the former prime minister of United Kingdom, who stepped down when British voters decided in a referendum to leave the European Union. Cameron had heavily campaigned to remain in the EU.

The result of Italy's referendum also comes amid the rise of anti-establishment sentiment in the world. Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S. nearly a month ago and France's anti-immigration and anti-European Union National Front Party leader Marine Le Pen is gaining support in her country.

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iStock/Thinkstock(VIENNA) -- Austria has elected a former Green Party leader to be its new president.

Alexander Van der Bellen defeated far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer, who conceded within minutes of the first results being reported on Sunday, BBC News reports.

Van der Bellen said his victory was a vote for "freedom, equality and solidarity," and re-affirmed his country's desire not to close itself off from the rest of Europe.

He said Austria had sent a "signal of hope and change" to "all the capitals of the European Union".

French President Francois Hollande said Austria had chosen "Europe and openness," and European Council President Donald Tusk offered his "wholehearted congratulations." Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen of France's conservative Front National said the Freedom Party would be victorious in upcoming legislative elections.

The post of president is ceremonial in Austria, but the vote was widely viewed as an indication of how well populist candidates would fare in European elections following this year's Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.

Sunday's vote was the country's second attempt to conduct the presidential runoff this year. An earlier vote in May was invalidated after vote irregularities.

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iStock/Thinkstock(HAVANA) -- With the death of Fidel Castro, the father of the Cuban revolution, many questions hang over the future of Cuba. President Raul Castro, Fidel's 85-year-old brother, has been leading the country since 2008 when Fidel stepped down. With the assistance of the Vatican and Canada, Raul Castro and President Obama announced negotiations toward thawing relations between the U.S. and Cuba in 2014.

But with only a year left in Raul Castro's presidency, what happens next for the island only 90 miles from the U.S.?

Immediately


Not much is expected to change immediately for Cuba.

"Raul has been a reformist, pushing pragmatically for slow but steady change -- 'without haste, but without pause,' as he likes to say," Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive and expert on Cuba, told ABC News. "There are others in the Communist Party politburo who oppose the range of his efforts to privatize and modernize the economy."

President-elect Donald Trump looms over whatever the future will look like. Whether he shuts down the island to business again, or allows more openings can play into the hands of Cuba's reformists or hardliners.

"If Trump pursues an arrogant imperial and threatening policy toward Cuba, the leadership will gravitate toward hardline security officials who will focus on national security," Kornbluh explains.

John Kavulich, president of the U.S. Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a private, not-for-profit, membership-based corporation, said it is "delusional thinking" that everything will immediately change with the death of Fidel Castro.

"The next months will be focused upon confirming for the 11.3 million citizens of Cuba that the 'Revolution' was not because of one man or only endured with that one man," he said. "It is the fabric that wraps the country and there will be no holes in that fabric."

Possible Election

The real change is expected come February 24, 2018 -- the day a Castro will no longer be running Cuba.

Raul Castro announced in 2013 that it would be his last five-year term as president. Come February 2018, it will be the first time since the revolution that a Castro will not be in power.

"President-elect Trump is focusing upon the requirements of the Libertad Act of 1996, which created conditions for the resumption of full commercial, economic and political relations with Cuba," Kavulich said. "President-elect Trump is sharing that he desires a 'better deal.' He may get one -- on 24 February 2018 when President Raul Castro retires and he will be the first United States president in 59 years to welcome a 'post-Castro Cuba' and preside during a 'post-Castro Cuba.' A provision of the Libertad Act requires that neither Fidel Castro nor Raul Castro be in government.”

The Libertad Act is also known as Helms-Burton Act, which states the embargo can be removed when Cuba holds "free and fair" elections and a Castro is not in power.

The expected successor is current vice-president Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, 56, appointed by Raul Castro in 2013. He is the highest ranking Cuban politician born after the revolution. Díaz-Canel is an engineer by training and according to Americas Quarterly has spoken for an open press and more Internet access.

"Today, news from all sides —- good or bad, manipulated and true -— gets to people. They know [what's going on]," Díaz-Canel told a higher education conference, according to Americas Quarterly. "And what is worse, then? Silence?"

He would become the first civilian leader of Cuba since the revolution, but how he will come to power is still a question.

"Leadership has never been put to the people in Cuba. I'd be very surprised if that were to change," Ted Piccone, a senior fellow in the Project on International Order and Strategy and Latin America Initiative in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings Institute told ABC News. "We'd certainly not see elections as anything we would recognize. There would be a formal appointment coming out of the national assembly."

The Cuban government has taken steps toward more open elections, such as allowing two independents to run in the last election, and promises to decentralize the government and has an electoral law reform pending, Piccone said.

"Key question is his legitimacy and his platform. We've had the Castro regime had the revolution to empower them all these years," he said. "When the Castros are gone that generation is gone. What is their legitimacy? He'd have to deliver of economic quality of life reforms. That’s what they are going to be judged on by the Cuban people because they weren’t fighting in the mountains for the revolution ... he was born after the revolution.”

Future

What the future will hold for Cuba is dependent on whether Trump allows the relaxation and easing of relations to continue, according to Piccone.

"Whether or not you like the Castros or not, the Cubans are very proud, nationalist people and they will survive," Piccone said. "Trump is taking a completely backward approach. He’d just provoke them and hardliners in Cuba to repress people rather than open up."

It will also depend on whether Raul Castro will fully remove himself from power.

While he will step down as president, the question remains if he will exit entirely from government.

"They've talked about separating the roles of party leader and government leader so would have Raul in theory, as head of the party and Diaz-Canal as head of government for the more day to day activities of running the government," Piccone explained. "With Fidel gone and Raul in the background I think you have much more burden on the new generation to move ahead with reforms because the current status quo program is not going to lead them to economic growth.

"If they position Diaz-Canal as the face of the Cuban government to the world and the people and if Raul has been playing the role Fidel has the past eight years (a monthly column or photo opp with a visiting dignitary), if Raul steps back as far as Fidel has stepped back then I would say it's the end of the Castro era."

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State of Indiana(NEW YORK) --  President-elect Trump's phone call with the president of Taiwan was "nothing more than taking a courtesy call," according to Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

"Its' a little mystifying to me that President Obama can reach out to a murdering dictator in Cuba in the last year and be hailed as a hero for doing it and President-elect Donald Trump takes a courtesy call from the democratically-elected leader of Taiwan, and it’s become something of a controversy," Pence told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on This Week on Sunday morning.

When asked whether the Trump administration would continue the "one China" foreign policy of the U.S. since 1979, Pence said, "We'll deal with policy after January 20."

Trump's phone conversation Friday with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen broke nearly four decades of sensitive U.S. policy toward China.

Although Taiwan has held that it is an independent nation since it split from the Chinese mainland in a 1949 civil war, the U.S. established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, and has since not recognized Taiwan as its own country but rather as a part of China.

Since 1979, no phone calls between a U.S. president-elect and a Taiwanese leader have been publicly reported, according to Center for Strategic and International Studies China expert Bonnie Glaser.

Pence told Stephanopoulos that Taiwan's leader called Trump. "They reached out to offer congratulations as leaders around the world have," he said. "He took the call, accepted her congratulations and good wishes."

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Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Trump Organization said Saturday that the company has no plans to expand in Taiwan and that “rumors” to the contrary are false.

After President-elect Trump spoke Friday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen -- breaking nearly four decades of sensitive U.S. policy toward China -- media reports surfaced saying that the Trump Organization is considering investing in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese and Chinese media reports said that a representative of the Trump Organization visited a city in Taiwan in September and expressed interest in the company's investing in a large-scale urban development project there.

The mayor of the city of Taoyuan reportedly said that the Trump Organization is considering building hotels and resorts in the city but that, as the large development project there is under review, the interest expressed by the Trump Organization representative during the visit was merely speculative.

But the Trump Organization's vice president of marketing, Amanda Miller, told ABC News in a statement, "There are no plans for expansion into Taiwan, nor are any of our executives planning a visit. The rumors of a planned development there are simply false."

Miller also responded to a recently surfaced Facebook post by Anne-Marie Donoghue, who is global director of transient sales and Asia at Trump Hotels. She posted a picture on her Facebook on Oct. 15 from Taipei and in the comments described her visit there as a "work trip."

Miller said Donoghue's visit had nothing to do with any planned development by Trump Organization in Taiwan.

"In terms of Anne Marie, she is not part of our development team which is overseen by our hotel company CEO," Miller said. "There have been no authorized visits to Taiwan on behalf of our brand for the purposes of development nor are there any active conversations."

The Trump transition team has not yet responded to requests by ABC News for comment on this issue.

The issue presents another thread in a story that has gained momentum as Trump assembles his administration, whether the interests of his global business could intertwine or affect his actions as president.

Trump said earlier this week he will be holding a major news conference with his children on Dec. 15 to lay out how he plans a "total" separation from his business while he is president.

In a Nov. 22 interview with The New York Times, Trump noted that the president is exempt from a conflict-of-interest statute that applies to other government officials. However, he also tweeted that it would be "visually" important to show the American people he can govern without any conflicts.

Trump's call with on Friday sent shock waves through at least part of the U.S. diplomatic establishment and led China to lodge a formal diplomatic protest with the U.S.

Taiwan has held that it is an independent nation since it split from the Chinese mainland in a 1949 civil war. But the U.S. has maintained a "one China" policy since establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979, meaning that it has not recognized Taiwan as its own country and rather as a part of China.

Since then, no phone calls between a U.S. president-elect and a Taiwanese leader have been publicly reported, according to Center for Strategic and International Studies China expert Bonnie Glaser.

The U.S. does have a "robust unofficial relationship" with Taiwan and commits to defending it in the event of a Chinese attack, according to the U.S. Department of State's website.

According to a press release from the Trump transition team about the phone call, Taiwan's president offered her congratulations to the president-elect, and he offered the same to her for her election victory this year. They discussed the "close economic, political, and security ties between Taiwan and the United States," the Trump transition team said.

The Taiwanese president's office said in a statement that the telephone call lasted 10 minutes and that Tsai and Trump were joined by Taiwan's National Security Council secretary general Joseph Wu Chao-hsieh, foreign minister David Li Ta-wei, acting secretary general Liu Jianxi and spokesman Huang Yan.

"During the conversation, President Tsai and President Trump also exchanged views and ideas on the future governance, especially the promotion of domestic economic development and the long-term strengthening of national defense, so as to enable the people to enjoy a secure and better life," the statement from Tsai's office read.

Meanwhile, Trump appeared to seek to dismiss concerns about the call in a series of tweets on Friday night, saying that he was on the receiving end of the call and noted that the U.S. has recently approved major arms sales to Taiwan.

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iStock/Thinkstock(REYKJAVIK, Iceland) -- Iceland's Pirate Party has been asked to try to form a government after the country's two largest parties failed to do so, according to BBC News.

In October's elections, the anti-establishment Pirate Party surged to 10 seats in the small European island's 63-seat parliament. That is fewer than both the Independence Party and the Left-Greens, but those parties were unable to form a coalition with a majority of seats in parliament.

As a result, President Gudni Johannesson asked the Pirates to lead new coalition talks.

Pirates head Birgitta Jonsdottir said she was "optimistic that we will find a way to work together".

BBC News says the Pirate Party, founded in 2012, ran on a platform promoting increased political accountability, free health care and closing tax loopholes. Opponents say investors may hesistate to invest in Iceland's economy if an inexperienced political party is at the helm.

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