TPM World News

TOKYO (AP) — South Koreans cheered, Iran warned that President Donald Trump should not be trusted and China said it may be time to discuss lifting sanctions on North Korea as Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held an unprecedented summit Tuesday in Singapore.

Around Asia and the world, many have welcomed the flurry of diplomacy in recent months between the two adversaries, after a year of mounting tension, threats and name-calling. Hopes for peace on the long-divided Korean Peninsula, however, remain tempered by the many failed attempts in the past.

“The United States and North Korea have been in a state of antagonism for more than half a century,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. “Today, that the two countries’ highest leaders can sit together and have equal talks, has important and positive meaning, and is creating a new history.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang later said that U.N. sanctions against North Korea could be suspended or lifted in accordance with the North’s actions. “We believe the Security Council should make efforts to support the diplomatic efforts at the present time,” he said.

Trump said at a post-summit news conference that he has held off from imposing additional sanctions, but that the U.S. would remove sanctions that are in place when the North’s nuclear weapons “are no longer a factor.”

Iran, meanwhile, reminded Kim that Trump should not be trusted because he could nullify any nuclear deal with North Korea, just as he pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

The semi-official Fars news agency quoted government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht as saying: “We are facing a man who revokes his signature while abroad.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he “could hardly sleep last night” in anticipation of the meeting and expressed hope for “complete denuclearization and peace.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed Kim’s written commitment to complete denuclearization in an agreement signed with Trump at the end of their meeting in Singapore.

New Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, on a visit to Tokyo, said that “both sides must be prepared to give in certain issues if they expect to reach a good conclusion.”

India’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it hoped for complete implementation of the agreement signed in Singapore, “thus paving the way for lasting peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.”

At a train station in Seoul, the South Korean capital, people cheered and applauded as televisions screens broadcast the Trump-Kim handshake live.

“I really, really hope for a good outcome,” said Yoon Ji, a professor at Sungshin University in Seoul. “I am hoping for denuclearization and a peace agreement and also for North Korea’s economy to open up.”

Some questioned whether Kim would fully relinquish the weapons he may see as his only guarantee of survival.

“I am still not sure whether the North is willing to denuclearize or not,” said Jo Han-won. “We never knew much about the North Korean regime and it’s hard to distinguish what’s true and what’s false.”

China, which provided a Boeing 747 that flew Kim from Pyongyang to Singapore, wants to ensure its interests are preserved in any negotiations, namely that they don’t result in a unified Korea that is pro-American.

Hu Xijin, the editor of influential Communist Party newspaper Global Times, said that he was “truly happy for this moment.” He dismissed as cynical those Chinese internet users who asked if Beijing had been marginalized in these talks.

“I think these people really grew up in negative energy,” he wrote on his Sina Weibo microblog.

Japan’s largest newspaper, the Yomiuri, printed a one-page “extra” edition in both Japanese and English that was distributed for free in major cities 90 minutes after the meeting began.

Passers-by outside a Tokyo train station snapped up 500 copies in a flash, excited to have a souvenir of the historic event. They generally welcomed the meeting as a good first step but wondered if any progress would be made on the fate of Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

“My biggest concern is the abduction issue, then the nuclear and missile,” said 70-year-old retiree Tomoaki Kenmotsu. “I have no idea how much the abduction issue is being taken up at the summit, but I hope it will be a good start for that issue too.”

Abe thanked Trump for raising the issue with Kim and said that “Japan will deal firmly with North Korea face-to-face” to resolve it.

The hard work remains to come, said Momoko Shimada, a 20-year-old student: “After the handshake and political show will be the real action. I believe that won’t be easy.”

Read More →

SINGAPORE (AP) — Donald Trump approached from the right, striding down the long portico at the colonial-era Singapore resort. Kim Jong Un, dressed in his familiar Mao suit, emerged from the left. They met in the middle, on a red carpet, dozens of cameras recording their every move as the world watched.

And counted.

Thirteen seconds. That’s how long the American and North Korean leaders shook hands at the start of their summit Tuesday. The length of the contact, their facial expressions and body language, the stunning backdrop of interlocked national flags — all of it was instantly analyzed, criticized and marveled at in tweets and commentary in South Korea, the United States and beyond.

Kim may have best summed up the surreal quality of what was happening when he said that many of those watching will think it’s a scene from a “science fiction movie.”

South Koreans applauded in a train station as they watched; the South Korean president grinned broadly; one official compared the summit, favorably, to the birth of his daughter. On the flipside, critics said the welcome Trump was giving Kim in Singapore would legitimize one of the world’s worst human rights offenders.

It was a single, quintessentially human moment — a greeting, a welcome, a start of a relationship — but the reaction to the handshake was as complicated as the standoff that the two countries these men represent have been locked in for seven decades now.

There was shock, relief, worry, sometimes simultaneously, as the world watched Trump and Kim — who were insulting each other’s mental and physical prowess and threatening nuclear war just a few months ago — shaking hands and smiling.

Trump put his hand out first, followed by Kim as they strode toward each other.

Trump grasped Kim’s right arm as they shook, and then, later, took ahold of Kim’s left arm as they turned to face the cameras and the world, both their expressions momentarily deadening before they turned to face each other again, and smiled.

The backdrop was almost as shocking as the warmth of the handshake — a row of the two nations’ flags displayed side-by-side at the entrance to the Singapore resort that’s hosting their summit.

Both Koreas have long demonized the other’s national flag. It’s illegal to show the North Korean flag in the South. North Korea’s anti-U.S. propaganda dates to the war and regularly shows North Korean soldiers bayonetting the U.S. flag.

However, many South Koreans rushed to express their awe of Tuesday’s events.

The liberal Hankook Ilbo newspaper marveled that the U.S. president didn’t shake hands in the usual “Trump way” of domineering his counterpart. It also noted that Trump softly tapped Kim on the shoulder and seemed to engage in small talk with him.

Jung Chung-rae, a former lawmaker of the liberal Minjoo Party, tweeted that the handshake “shined with courtesy and respect” and that history will remember their “handshakes and smiles.” Media photos showed South Korean President Moon Jae-in smiling broadly during a Cabinet meeting at the Blue House while watching a television screen that showed Trump and Kim shaking hands in front of American and North Korean flags. “All the attention of our people is on Singapore,” Moon said. “I, too, could hardly sleep last night.”

Shortly before the leaders met, Moon’s chief of staff wrote on Facebook that the summit reminded him of his child’s birth.

“I remember hovering around the delivery room the day my daughter was born. I didn’t care whether you were a boy or a girl. Just come out to the world healthy with a big cry,” Im Jong-seok wrote, apparently wishing for a successful outcome from the meeting between Trump and Kim.

Critics, however, saw the handshake and Kim’s earlier moonlight stroll as evidence Trump was helping to legitimize Kim as his equal on the world stage even though the North Korean regime has been accused of horrific rights abuses. During his stroll Monday along the glittering Singapore waterfront, crowds yelled Kim’s name and jostled to take pictures, and the North Korean leader posed for a selfie with Singapore officials.

Last year Kim was “Little Rocket Man,” according to Trump, and U.S. officials regularly mentioned his likely role in the assassination of his half-brother with nerve agent in a Malaysian airport, as well as his uncle’s execution. Kim’s image would now be bolstered, critics said.

Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA analyst, told MSNBC, “Kim Jong Un is prepared. He knows what he wants, which is to gain an … international acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear weapons power. He thinks he’s coming into this meeting from a position of strength because he has reached certain capability in his nuclear missile program. And he thinks he’s going to now see what he can get out of the United States.”

Adam Mount, a U.S. defense analyst, expressed anger about seeing the U.S. and North Korean flags side by side.

“We should be working diligently to transform North Korea and our relationship with it,” he tweeted. “But until that day, it’s abhorrent to see a flag that stands for so much suffering and cruelty standing with ours.”

Read More →

SINGAPORE (AP) — President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un concluded an extraordinary nuclear summit Tuesday with the U.S. president pledging unspecified “security guarantees” to the North and Kim recommitting to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Meeting with staged ceremony on a Singapore island, Trump and Kim came together for a summit that seemed unthinkable months ago, clasping hands in front of a row of alternating U.S. and North Korean flags, holding a one-on-one meeting, additional talks with advisers and a working lunch.

Both leaders expressed optimism throughout roughly five hours of talks, with Trump thanking Kim afterward “for taking the first bold step toward a bright new future for his people.”

Trump added during a free-flowing news conference that Kim has before him “an opportunity like no other” to bring his country back into the community of nations if he agrees to give up his nuclear program.

Trump announced that he will be freezing U.S. military “war games” with its ally South Korea while negotiations between the two countries continue. Trump cast the decision as a cost-saving measure, but North Korea has long objected to the drills as a security threat.

Trump acknowledged that the timetable for denuclearization is long, but said, “once you start the process it means it’s pretty much over.”

The president acknowledged that U.S. intelligence into the North Korean nuclear stockpile is limited, “probably less there than any other country,” he said. “But we have enough intelligence to know that what they have is very substantial.”

Trump sidestepped his public praise for an autocrat whose people have been oppressed for decades. He added Otto Warmbier, an American once detained in North Korea, “did not die in vain” because his death brought about the nuclear talks.

Trump said Kim accepted his invitation to visit the White House at the “appropriate” time.

Light on specifics, the document signed by the leaders largely amounted to an agreement to continue discussions as it echoed previous public statements and past commitments. It did not include an agreement to take steps toward ending the technical state of warfare between the U.S. and North Korea.

The pair promised in the document to “build a lasting and stable peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula and to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War.

Language on North Korea’s bombs was similar to what the leaders of North and South Korea came up with at their own summit in April. At the time, the Koreans faced criticism for essentially kicking the issue of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal down the road to Tuesday’s Trump-Kim summit. Trump and Kim even directly referenced the so-called Panmunjom Declaration, which contained a weak commitment to denuclearization and no specifics on how to achieve it.

The formal document signing followed a series of meetings at a luxury Singapore resort.

After the signing, Trump said he expected to “meet many times” in the future with Kim and, in response to questions, said he “absolutely” would invite Kim to the White House. For his part, Kim hailed the “historic meeting” and said they “decided to leave the past behind.”

In a moment that would never happen in North Korea, reporters began yelling questions to Trump and Kim after they signed the document, including whether they had discussed the case of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who suffered brain damage while in North Korean custody and died in June 2017, days after he was returned home to Ohio.

In the run-up to the meeting, Trump had predicted the two men might strike a nuclear deal or forge a formal end to the Korean War in the course of a single meeting or over several days. But in the hours before the summit, the White House unexpectedly announced Trump would depart Singapore earlier than expected — Tuesday evening — raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back.

The meeting was the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

Aware that the eyes of the world were on a moment many people never expected to see, Kim said many of those watching would think it was a scene from a “science fiction movie.”

After meeting privately and with aides, Trump and Kim moved into the luncheon at a long flower-bedecked table. As they entered, Trump injected some levity to the day’s extraordinary events, saying: “Getting a good picture everybody? So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect.”

Then they dined on beef short rib confit along with sweet and sour crispy pork.

And as they emerged from the meal for a brief stroll together, Trump appeared to delight in showing his North Korean counterpart the interior of “The Beast,” the famed U.S. presidential limousine known for its high-tech fortifications.

Critics of the summit leapt at the leaders’ handshake and the moonlight stroll Kim took Monday night along the glittering Singapore waterfront, saying it was further evidence that Trump was helping legitimize Kim on the world stage. Kim has been accused of horrific rights abuses against his people.

“It’s a huge win for Kim Jong Un, who now — if nothing else — has the prestige and propaganda coup of meeting one on one with the president, while armed with a nuclear deterrent,” said Michael Kovrig, a northeast Asia specialist at the International Crisis Group in Washington.

Trump responded to such commentary on Twitter, saying: “The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers.” But he added “our hostages” are back home and testing, research and launches have stopped.

Giving voice to the anticipation felt around the world as the meeting opened, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday he “hardly slept” before the summit.

Moon and other officials watched the live broadcast of the summit before a South Korean Cabinet meeting in his presidential office

The summit capped a dizzying few days of foreign policy activity for Trump, who shocked U.S. allies over the weekend by using a meeting in Canada of the Group of Seven industrialized economies to alienate America’s closest friends in the West.

Lashing out over trade practices, Trump lobbed insults at his G-7 host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump left that summit early and, as he flew to Singapore, tweeted that he was yanking the U.S. out of the group’s traditional closing statement.

The optimistic summit was a remarkable change in dynamics from less than a year ago, when Trump was threatening “fire and fury” against Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” Beyond the impact on both leaders’ political fortunes, the summit could shape the fate of countless people — the citizens of impoverished North Korea, the tens of millions living in the shadow of the North’s nuclear threat, and millions more worldwide.

Alluding to the North’s concerns that giving up its nuclear weapons could surrender its primary deterrent to forced regime change, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the U.S. was prepared to take action to provide North Korea with “sufficient certainty” that denuclearization “is not something that ends badly for them.”

He would not say whether that included the possibility of withdrawing U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, but said the U.S. was “prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique, than America’s been willing to provide previously.”

The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions as it has advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Pompeo held firm to Trump’s position that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea denuclearizes — and said they would even increase if diplomatic discussions did not progress positively.

Read More →

President Donald Trump said North Korea’s Kim Jong Un agreed to destroy a “major” missile testing site, but didn’t offer details.

Trump also said he thinks “we’ll probably need another summit”— or at least a second meeting — with Kim as they discuss the North Korean leader’s commitment to denuclearization.

But Trump told reporters in Singapore on Tuesday that he and Kim were able to cover far more ground than he’d expected.

He says, “We’re much further along than I would have thought.”

He added that he really believes North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is going to make good on his promise to denuclearize.

Trump said near the end of a lengthy press conference that he may be wrong about Kim, but he’ll never admit it.

He joked that he “may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.'” But he says, “I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that.”

Trump appeared to be in a good spirits as he answered questions for almost an hour following a day of meetings with Kim and other North Korean officials.

He ended by congratulating reporters and saying he’s eager to “take it a little bit easy” now that the highly anticipated summit is over.

Read More →

SINGAPORE (AP) — President Donald Trump plans to depart early from his unprecedented summit with Kim Jong Un, the White House said Monday, declaring that nuclear talks with North Korea have moved “more quickly than expected.”

Trump had been scheduled to fly back to Washington on Wednesday morning after spending Tuesday with the North Korean leader in Singapore. But on the eve of the summit, he altered his schedule, opting to return at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday after a full day of meetings with Kim — almost 15 hours earlier than previously anticipated.

“The discussions between the United States and North Korea are ongoing and have moved more quickly than expected,” the White House said in a statement.

It wasn’t immediately clear what specific progress, if any, had been made in preliminary discussions between U.S. and North Korean officials in the run-up to the Tuesday summit. In fact, only hours before the White House announcement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had seemed to lower expectations for the meeting, which Trump had earlier predicted could potentially yield an on-the-spot deal to end the Korean War.

“We are hopeful this summit will have set the conditions for future successful talks,” Pompeo said on Monday evening.

The summit — the first ever between a sitting American president and North Korea’s leader — was to kick off at 9 a.m., the White House said. After greeting each other, the two leaders planned to sit for a one on one meeting that a U.S. official said could last up to two hours, with only translators joining them. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the plans and insisted on anonymity.

The White House said the daylong summit would also include a working lunch and a larger meeting involving aides to both leaders. On the U.S. side, Trump was to be joined by Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly, national security adviser John Bolton and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, along with a few others.

Before flying home, Trump planned to speak to reporters in Singapore after concluding the summit, the White House said.

The last-minute change of schedule came as both sides finalized preparations for the meeting. Trump on Monday forecast a “nice” outcome, while Kim spent the day out of view.

Read More →

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump took more swipes at Canada and its prime minister over trade issues as he settled in for a summit with North Korea in Singapore, contending that “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal.”

Trump roiled the weekend Group of Seven meeting in Canada by agreeing to a group statement on trade only to withdraw from it while flying to Asia. He complained that he had been blindsided by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticism of his tariff threats at a summit-ending news conference. In tweets, Trump insulted Trudeau as “dishonest” and “weak.”

The attack on a longtime ally and its leader drew sharp criticism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also attended the summit, told German public television that she found Trump’s tweet disavowing the G-7 statement “sobering” and “a little depressing.” She also said the European Union would “act” against the U.S. trade measures.

Unbowed, Trump tweeted anew Monday morning from Singapore, repeating his criticism of U.S. trade policies with Canada — he also took aim at Germany — in a multi-tweet rant that went beyond 200 words all told. At one point he wrote, “Justin acts hurt when called out!”

“Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?” he tweeted.

Trump advisers had taken up the attack in appearances on Sunday’s news shows, leveling more withering and unprecedented criticism against Trudeau, branding him a back-stabber unworthy of Trump’s time.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Navarro said Trump “did the courtesy to Justin Trudeau to travel up to Quebec for that summit. He had other things, bigger things, on his plate in Singapore. … He did him a favor and he was even willing to sign that socialist communique. And what did Trudeau do as soon as the plane took off from Canadian airspace? Trudeau stuck our president in the back. That will not stand.”

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, suggested Trump saw Trudeau as trying to weaken his hand before the summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, saying the president won’t “let a Canadian prime minister push him around. … Kim must not see American weakness.” Trudeau pulled a “sophomoric political stunt for domestic consumption” that amounted to “a betrayal,” said Kudlow, who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

In response to the initial tweets critical of her country and prime minister, Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said her nation “does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks.”

Trudeau, who had said at the news conference that Canada would retaliate for new U.S. tariffs, didn’t respond to questions about Trump when the prime minister arrived at a Quebec City hotel Sunday for meetings with other world leaders. Freeland later told reporters that “we don’t think that’s a useful or productive way to do business.”

A Trudeau spokesman, Cameron Ahmad, said Saturday night that Trudeau “said nothing he hasn’t said before — both in public and in private conversations” with Trump.

And Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Trudeau, jabbed at Trump on Twitter: “Big tough guy once he’s back on his airplane. Can’t do it in person. … He’s a pathetic little man-child.”

Trudeau said he had reiterated to Trump, who left the G-7 meeting before it ended, that tariffs would harm industries and workers on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. Trudeau told reporters that imposing retaliatory measures “is not something I relish doing” but that he wouldn’t hesitate to do so because “I will always protect Canadian workers and Canadian interests.”

The Americans’ criticism of Trudeau left a former Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, stumped. “I don’t understand the obsession with trade relations with Canada,” he said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” given that Canada is the biggest single buyer of American goods and services in the world. From promoting democracy and to fighting terrorism, “we’re on the same page. We’re the closest partners in the world and you don’t want to see a dispute over one particular issue poison everything.”

Trudeau had said Canadians “are polite, we’re reasonable, but also we will not be pushed around.” He described all seven leaders coming together to sign the joint declaration despite having “some strong, firm conversations on trade, and specifically on American tariffs.”

In the air by then, Trump tweeted: “Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!”

He followed up by tweeting: “PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!”

Read More →

SINGAPORE (AP) — President Donald Trump cast his Tuesday summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as a “one-time shot” for the autocratic leader to ditch his nuclear weapons and enter the community of nations, saying he would know within moments if Kim is serious about the talks.

Trump said Saturday he was embarking on a “mission of peace,” as he departed the Group of Seven meeting in Canada to fly to the summit site in Singapore. Saying he has a “clear objective in mind” to convince Kim to abandon his nuclear program in exchange for unspecified “protections” from the U.S., Trump acknowledged that the direction of the high-stakes meeting is unpredictable, adding it “will always be spur of the moment.”

“It’s unknown territory in the truest sense, but I really feel confident,” he told reporters. “I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do something great for his people and he has that opportunity and he won’t have that opportunity again.”

“It’s a one-time shot and I think it’s going to work out very well,” he said.

The meeting will be the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Unlike traditional summits between heads of state, where most of the work is completed in advance of a photo-op, U.S. officials say the only thing certain ahead of these talks will be their unpredictability.

Raising expectations in advance of the meeting, Trump said the outcome will rely heavily on his own instincts. The U.S. president, who prides himself on his deal-making prowess, said he will know “within the first minute” of meeting Kim whether the North Korean leader is serious about the nuclear negotiations.

“I think I’ll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen. And if I think it won’t happen, I’m not going to waste my time. I don’t want to waste his time,” Trump said.

“This is a leader who really is an unknown personality,” Trump added of Kim. “People don’t know much about him. I think that he’s going to surprise on the upside, very much on the upside.”

The Kim sit-down comes as Trump’s international negotiating skills have faced their toughest tests to date with mixed results. Tensions flared at the G-7 summit between Trump and U.S. allies over his protectionist economic policies and decisions to exit the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate accord.

Trump rated his relationships with U.S. partners as “a 10,” though erstwhile allies spent much of the weekend directly challenging Trump’s policy positions.

As he looks to the Kim meeting, Trump is taking a high-stakes risk in hopes of containing the increasingly challenging national security threats from North Korea’s advanced nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Seeing Nobel Peace Prize laurels and eyeing potential to show up his critics at home and abroad, Trump is granting Kim the international legitimacy he’s long sought in hopes of securing a legacy-defining accord.

“He could take that nation with those great people and truly make it great,” Trump said. “That’s why I feel positive, because it makes so much sense.”

Trump also praised the North Koreans, saying they have been “really working very well with us” during preparations for the summit, even though Trump had canceled the summit last month following a recent period of what he called “tremendous anger and open hostility” from the North Korean government. But then Trump did a quick pivot, signaling almost immediately after scrapping the meeting that he was open to going ahead with it after all.

Delegations from both countries then launched into a frenetic period of negotiations that are expected to culminate with Tuesday’s meeting.

“So far, so good. We’re going to have to see what happens. I very much look forward to it,” Trump said.

Still, questions remain about what a deal on the North’s nuclear weapons could look like.

Trump has said he believes Kim would agree to denuclearization — and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday he had received Kim’s personal assurances to that effect — but the two countries have offered differing visions of what that would entail. Despite Kim’s apparent eagerness for a summit with Trump, there are doubts that he would fully relinquish his nuclear arsenal, which he may see as his guarantee of survival.

U.S. defense and intelligence officials have assessed the North to be on the threshold of having the capability to strike anywhere in the continental U.S. with a nuclear-tipped missile — a capacity that Trump and other U.S. officials have said they would not tolerate.

Trump reiterated his promise Saturday that the U.S. “will watch over and we’ll protect” Kim and his government in return for him giving up the nuclear program. He also indicated that South Korea, China and Japan would be prepared to invest in the North to boost its besieged economy.

___

Lucey reported from La Malbaie, Quebec. Associated Press writer Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.

Read More →

LA MALBAIE, Quebec (AP) — President Donald Trump delivered a stern warning on trade to foreign countries at the Group of Seven summit on Saturday, advising trading partners not to retaliate against U.S. tariffs on the imports of steel and aluminum. “If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake,” Trump declared.

Trump told reporters he pressed for “fair and reciprocal” trade practices at the G-7 meeting in Canada, urging his foreign counterparts to eliminate all tariffs, trade barriers and subsidies in their trading practices. The president has been at odds with key allies over the new tariffs, which dominated his talks with the leaders of major industrialized nations in the Canadian resort town. In addition to the U.S. and Canada, the group includes Britain, Italy, France, Germany and Japan.

The president said the U.S. was “pretty close” to reaching an agreement on the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico and had discussed two types of sunset provisions in which any of the countries could leave the deal. Trump said the final outcome would lead either to a better agreement on NAFTA or separate trade deals with both Canada and Mexico.

Shortly before his arrival at the two-day summit, Trump injected additional controversy by suggesting that the G-7 offer a seat at the table to Russia, which was ousted from the group after it annexed Crimea in 2014. The president said Saturday that re-admitting Russia to the elite club would be “an asset,” telling reporters, “we’re looking for peace in the world.” Trump said he had not spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a while.

Trump was departing the Canadian summit several hours early, heading to Singapore for his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on what he called a “mission of peace.”

Read More →

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis told world oil executives Saturday that the transition to less-polluting energy sources “is a challenge of epochal proportions,” and warned that the satisfying the globe’s energy needs “must not destroy civilization.”The Vatican says the two-day conference with oil executives was meant as a follow-up to the pope’s encyclical three years ago calling on people to save the planet from the ravages of climate change and other environmental ills.

Participants included the CEOs of Italian oil giant ENI, British Petroleum, ExxonMobil and Norway’s Statoil as well as scientists and managers of major investment funds. Their remarks on the first day of the closed-door conference were not released by the Vatican.

While Francis lauded the oil executives for embedding an assessment of climate change risks into their planning strategies, he also put them on notice for their “continued search for fossil fuel reserves,” 2½ years after the Paris climate accord “clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground.”

“Civilization requires energy, but energy must not destroy civilization,” he implored.

Energy experts and those who advocate fighting climate change expressed doubts before the conference that it would amount to anything other than a PR opportunity for the companies to burnish their image without making meaningful changes.

In his remarks, the pope said he hoped the meeting gave participants the chance to “re-examine old assumptions and gain new perspectives.”

Francis said that modern society with its “massive movement of information, persons and things requires an immense supply of energy.” And still, he said, as many as one billion people still lack electricity.

The pope said meeting the energy needs of everyone on the planet must be done in ways “that avoid creating environmental imbalances, resulting in deterioration and pollution that is gravely harmful to our human family, both now and in the future.”

Frances also recalled his own appeal in the “Laudato Si” encyclical for an energy policy “aimed at averting disastrous climate changes that could compromise the well-being and future of the human family, and our common home.” That includes transitioning to efficient, clean energy sources.

“This is a challenge of epochal proportions,” he said Saturday. “At the same time it is an immense opportunity to encourage efforts to ensure fuller access to energy by less developed countries … as well as diversifying energy sources and promoting the sustainable development of renewable forms of energy.”

The pope called for a “long-term global strategy to provide energy security,” along with “precise commitments” to tackle the challenge of climate change.

He said it was “disturbing and a cause for real concern” that the levels of carbon dioxide emissions and the concentrations of greenhouse gases remain high despite commitments taken in the 2015 Paris accord to fight global warming.

He urged participants to use their “demonstrated aptitude for innovation” to address “two of the great needs in today’s world: the care of the poor and the environment.” He noted that the poor pay the highest price for climate change, often being forced to migrate due to water insecurity, severe weather and an accompanying collapse in agriculture.

“The transition to accessible and clean energy is a duty that we owe toward millions of our brothers and sisters around the world, poor countries and generations yet to come,” the pope said.

Read More →

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has pulled two more of its workers out of Cuba and are testing them for possible brain injury, three U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Friday, amid concerns they may have been affected by the mysterious health incidents harming U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China.

The two individuals are considered “potentially new cases” but have not yet been “medically confirmed,” a State Department official said. Two other officials said the individuals have been brought for testing to the University of Pennsylvania, where doctors have been evaluating, treating and studying Americans affected in Cuba last year as well as new potential cases from a U.S. consulate in China.

The officials were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

So far there are 24 confirmed patients affected by the bizarre incidents, first disclosed last year, that have been deemed “specific attacks” by the U.S. government. The United States has said it doesn’t know who is behind it, but has argued Cuba is responsible for protecting all diplomats on its soil.

Until Friday, the most recent suspicious incidents disclosed by the U.S. had been in August 2017, leading many to suspect they had stopped.

The two new individuals removed from Cuba were medically evaluated in just the past few weeks, two officials said.

The confirmed Cuba patients have been found to have a range of symptoms and diagnoses including mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussions. Unexplained sounds and vibrations that accompanied the symptoms initially led investigators to suspect a sonic weapon, although an interim FBI report in January said no evidence had been uncovered that sound waves could have damaged the Americans’ health, The Associated Press reported.

The potential new cases come as the U.S. has being issuing health alerts to Americans in China after a worker at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou reported symptoms and strange sounds and was flown to the U.S. That worker was then medically confirmed to have “suffered a medical incident consistent with what other U.S. government personnel experienced in Havana, Cuba,” the State Department has said.

The department has sent a medical team to Guangzhou to offer medical screenings to all American government workers and family members who want them. The team arrived late last week and has started evaluating Americans.

Of the roughly 170 American consulate staffers and family members in Guangzhou, about 150 sought the offered preliminary medical examinations, according to officials familiar with the process. The officials stressed that some of them may not have experienced any symptoms and were having the tests done protectively. Although the vast majority of them were cleared, eight people were referred to the University of Pennsylvania for additional testing, the officials said.

The U.S. diplomatic presence in China is large with representatives from 33 different federal agencies employed at the embassy in Beijing and the five consulates on the mainland: Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang and Wuhan. As of May 2017, when the State Department inspector general’s office conducted its last inspection of the missions in China, almost 900 Americans worked at them, including 168 who were hired locally.

Read More →

LiveWire