TPM World News

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis denounced abortion on Saturday as the “white glove” equivalent of the Nazi-era eugenics program and urged families to accept the children that God gives them.

Francis spoke off-the-cuff to a meeting of an Italian family association. The Vatican didn’t immediately provide a transcript of his remarks, but the ANSA news agency and the SIR agency of the Italian bishops’ conference quoted him as denouncing the pre-natal tests that can result in parents choosing to terminate a pregnancy if the fetus is malformed or suffering other problems.

“Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves,” the agencies quoted Francis as saying.

The pope urged families to accept children “as God gives them to us.”

Francis has repeated the strict anti-abortion stance of his predecessors and integrated it into his broader condemnation of what he calls today’s “throw-away culture.” He has frequently lamented how the sick, the poor, the elderly and the unborn are considered unworthy of protection and dignity by a society that prizes instead individual efficiency.

Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to preaching about families, marriage and the problems that families today encounter. These issues he is expected to highlight during his August trip to Ireland where he’ll close out the Catholic Church’s big family rally.

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BEIJING (AP) — China’s government said Friday it will retaliate for U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariff hike on Chinese goods by immediately imposing penalties of the “same scale” on American goods.

The Commerce Ministry said it also is scrapping deals made with Washington in talks aimed at defusing a sprawling trade dispute.

A ministry statement gave no details of what U.S. goods would be affected, but China announced possible targets in April including soybeans, light aircraft, orange juice, whiskey and beef.

“The Chinese side doesn’t want to fight a trade war, but facing the shortsightedness of the U.S. side, China has to fight back strongly,” the statement said. “We will immediately introduce the same scale and equal taxation measures, and all economic and trade achievements reached by the two sides will be invalidated.”

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has approved a plan to impose punishing tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of Chinese goods as early as Friday, a move that could put his trade policies on a collision course with his push to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Trump has long vowed to fulfill his campaign pledge to clamp down on what he considers unfair Chinese trading practices. But his calls for billions in tariffs could complicate his efforts to maintain China’s support in his negotiations with North Korea.

Trump met Thursday with several Cabinet members and trade advisers and was expected to impose tariffs on at least $35 billion to $40 billion of Chinese imports, according to an industry official and an administration official familiar with the plans.

The amount of goods could reach $55 billion, said the industry official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the matter ahead of a formal announcement.

If the president presses forward as expected, it could set the stage for a series of trade actions against China and lead to retaliation from Beijing. Trump has already slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and European allies, and his proposed tariffs against China risk starting a trade war involving the world’s two biggest economies.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Friday that China’s response would be immediate and that Beijing would “take necessary measures to defend our legitimate rights and interests.”

Geng gave no details. Beijing earlier drew up a list of $50 billion in U.S. products that would face retaliatory tariffs, including beef and soybeans, a shot at Trump’s supporters in rural America.

Trump’s decision on the Chinese tariffs comes in the aftermath of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The president has coordinated closely with China on efforts to get Pyongyang to eliminate its nuclear arsenal. But he signaled that whatever the implications, “I have to do what I have to do” to address the trade imbalance.

Trump, in his press conference in Singapore on Tuesday, said the U.S. has a “tremendous deficit in trade with China and we have to do something about it. We can’t continue to let that happen.” The U.S. trade deficit with China was $336 billion in 2017.

Administration officials have signaled support for imposing the tariffs in a dispute over allegations that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology, according to officials briefed on the plans. China has targeted $50 billion in U.S. products for potential retaliation.

Wall Street has viewed the escalating trade tensions with wariness, fearful that they could strangle the economic growth achieved during Trump’s watch and undermine the benefits of the tax cuts he signed into law last year.

“If you end up with a tariff battle, you will end up with price inflation, and you could end up with consumer debt. Those are all historic ingredients for an economic slowdown,” Gary Cohn, Trump’s former top economic adviser, said at an event sponsored by The Washington Post.

But Steve Bannon, Trump’s former White House and campaign adviser, said the crackdown on China’s trade practices was “the central part of Trump’s economic nationalist message. His fundamental commitment to the ‘deplorables’ on the campaign trail was that he was going to bring manufacturing jobs back, particularly from Asia.”

In the trade fight, Bannon said, Trump has converted three major tools that “the American elites considered off the table” — namely, the use of tariffs, the technology investigation of China and penalties on Chinese telecom giant ZTE.

“That’s what has gotten us to the situation today where the Chinese are actually at the table,” Bannon said. “It’s really not just tariffs, it’s tariffs on a scale never before considered.”

The Chinese have threatened to counterpunch if the president goes ahead with the plan. Chinese officials have said they would drop agreements reached last month to buy more U.S. soybeans, natural gas and other products.

Scott Kennedy, a specialist on the Chinese economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Chinese threat was real and helped along by recent strains exhibited among the U.S. and allies. “I don’t think they would cower or immediately run to the negotiating table to throw themselves at the mercy of Donald Trump,” Kennedy said. “They see the U.S. is isolated and the president as easily distracted.”

Ron Moore, who farms 1,800 acres of corn and soybeans in Roseville, Illinois, said soybean prices have already started dropping ahead of what looks like a trade war between the two economic powerhouses. “We have to plan for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best,” said Moore, who is chairman of the American Soybean Association. “If you look back at President Trump’s history, he’s been wildly successful negotiating as a businessman. But it’s different when you’re dealing with other governments.”

The U.S. and China have been holding ongoing negotiations over the trade dispute.

The United States has criticized China for the aggressive tactics it uses to develop advanced technologies, including robots and electric cars, under its “Made in China 2025” program. The U.S. tariffs are designed specifically to punish China for forcing American companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

The administration is also working on proposed Chinese investment restrictions by June 30. So far, Trump has yet to signal any interest in backing away.

“I think the tariffs are coming,” said Stephen Moore, a former Trump campaign adviser and visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation. “It really does depend on whether China makes a move to ameliorate Trump’s concerns, and so far they haven’t.”

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump got the history-making handshake he wanted with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Now, with the smiling snapshot a part of history, new details are emerging about the bizarre behind-the-scenes negotiations that led up to the summit — and about the president’s post-summit frustrations with how it’s being portrayed.

Setting up the Singapore meeting was no easy feat for the technically still-warring heads of state, requiring planners to accommodate confounding requests and paranoia. But neither has it been easy for Trump to sell the plan to a doubting class of experts, allies and the media. He’s chafing at the skepticism swirling about the nuclear accord that he wants to define his legacy.

Scenes from inside the summit:

“ALIEN” TERRITORY?

Like talking with “aliens.” Sitting at tables at the luxurious Capella Hotel in Singapore or in the sparse Demilitarized Zone on the Korean Peninsula, that’s how U.S. officials involved in negotiations with their North Korean counterparts described their conversations ahead of the summit.

The North Koreans had never before participated in an event of the sort, were unfamiliar with notions of press access and deeply afraid about both espionage and assassination. The North Korean logistics teams struck the Americans as organized, detail-oriented and mission-focused, said one official involved in the planning. There were also a number of women involved in senior roles, surprising to the U.S. side.

On the day before the summit, U.S. and North Korean officials met throughout the day in Singapore to hash out areas of agreement for what became the joint statement issued by the two leaders on Tuesday. The U.S. team wanted to send in an official photographer to capture the moment for history — a manifestation of the White House’s desire to turn the summit into an international media event — but the North Koreans balked.

“How do we know she’s not a spy?” protested the North Koreans. They eventually agreed the photographer could attend, said an official familiar with the discussions with the North Koreans who wasn’t authorized to discuss it and insisted on anonymity.

Similar worries had come up earlier in the talks when the Korean delegation voiced concerns that cameras belonging to the press could be concealed weapons.

THE TRUST GAP

There was hardly trust on the U.S. side either. Kim, after all, is accused by the U.S. of ordering the murder of his half brother with a nerve agent last year.

From the first logistical talks in Singapore, it was clear to U.S. officials that overcoming the security trust gap was among the most significant hurdles to getting the two leaders into the same room.

For every person the White House wanted to put in the room for the meetings, the North wanted to know how they would know the person was not there to spy on the proceedings or harm Kim.

U.S. officials credited the Singaporean government for helping to prevent the mistrust from sinking the summit.

Checkpoints were jointly patrolled by U.S., North Korean, and Singaporean officials, with some journalists on site required to undergo separate security sweeps by each of the three parties. U.S. officials agreed to cap the number of U.S. government officials they allowed onto the luxury summit property to match the far smaller North Korean delegation.

It left all but the most senior American negotiators, including many subject matter experts, monitoring the proceedings via television and emailed updates from the president’s hotel, a 20-minute drive away.

OLD HABITS DIE HARD

At a formal signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon, a gloved North Korean official inspected Kim’s chair and the black felt-tipped pen bearing Trump’s signature in gold that was positioned for Kim’s use.

At the last minute, Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, who was standing to his side, provided a pen of her own for his use.

The U.S.-supplied pen was later retrieved, unused, by a White House staffer.

EQUAL PARTNERS

Throughout the summit preparations, U.S. officials described the North Koreans as focused on ensuring they were not the junior partner in the talks.

In a symbolic concession, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) was listed above the U.S. in the official summit logo on credentials for the summit. The White House also agreed to limit the number of journalists allowed to cover some events to mirror the North Korean contingent of state-run media.

Still, Trump appeared to be in the driver’s seat, clapping Kim on the back and directing over to their interpreters to start their one-on-one meeting. The U.S. president also signaled for reporters in the room to be escorted out — after both took questions from the journalists.

FRUSTRATION FACTOR

On the final day before the summit, officials at the White House National Security Council back in Washington grew incensed over a New York Times report suggesting that “science is unwelcome” in Trump’s administration and that the U.S. negotiating team was devoid of nuclear physicists. So the White House issued a directive to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: He would go in front of cameras in Singapore and call out the newspaper by name, an official familiar with the instruction said. Pompeo complied.

“Before discussing the summit, I want to address a report in The New York Times,” Pompeo opened. “Any suggestion that the United States somehow lacks the technical expertise across government or lacks it on the ground here in Singapore is mistaken.”

Now that he’s back home, Trump has been fuming privately and publicly over the skeptical news coverage about his signed agreement with Kim. Never steeped in details or history, the president feels he has made ground-breaking progress, as evidenced by his grand statements telling the world to “sleep well.” Back in DC, in a terrible mood, he is frustrated by all the questions about the fine print.

Trump has been calling lawmakers to express enthusiasm for the agreement — but also complaining that he has not had more robust support from GOP lawmakers, said a person with knowledge of the calls, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share internal conversations. While the president calls the summit a “first step,” with more meetings sure to come, he also has been arguing that he has already done more than his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States on Thursday renewed calls for the Cuban government to determine the source of health “attacks” on U.S. diplomats in Cuba that have affected some two dozen people.

At a senior-level meeting with Cuban officials in Washington, the State Department said it had again raised the issue, which has prompted a significant reduction in staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. It reiterated “the urgent need to identify the source of the attacks on U.S. diplomats and to ensure they cease.”

“We also reiterated that until it is sufficiently safe to fully staff our embassy, we will not be able to provide regular visa services in Havana,” the department said in a statement.

Cuba has denied any knowledge of the source or cause of the incidents that have sickened at least 24 diplomats since late 2016, leaving some with brain damage. Two other diplomats suffering similar symptoms in Cuba were sent to medical specialists for evaluation, U.S. officials disclosed last week.

The potential new cases come as the U.S. has begun 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 department has 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, though 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 department also voiced concern Thursday about the “arbitrary detention of independent journalists and human rights defenders” in Cuba.

The U.S. side in the talks was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs John Creamer. Cuba’s side was led by Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, the Foreign Ministry’s director general for U.S. affairs.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says on Twitter, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” as he returns to the United States after his historic summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump says on Twitter that “everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office.”

He says before he took office, “people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea,” and President Barack Obama said North Korea was the nation’s biggest problem.

Trump and Kim signed an agreement to work toward denuclearization, but it appears weaker than past deals that failed. Independent experts estimate North Korea now has enough fissile material for 20 to 60 bombs, and it has tested missiles that could potentially deliver a nuclear weapon to the U.S. mainland.

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PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The news on television and the front page of the ruling Workers’ Party newspaper was something North Koreans never would have imagined just months ago — their leader Kim Jong Un warmly shaking hands with President Donald Trump.

One day after the meeting between Kim and Trump in Singapore, North Korea’s state-run media were filled with images of its beaming leader standing as an equal on the international stage with the president of the most powerful country in the world — a reminder of just how much of a propaganda coup the North saw in Tuesday’s unprecedented summit.

Dubbing it the start of a new relationship between their countries, which are still technically at war, Pyongyang’s first reports Wednesday stressed to the North Korean people that Trump agreed at Kim’s demand to halt joint military exercises with South Korea as long as talks toward easing tensions continue and suggested that Trump also said he would lift sanctions as negations progressed.

“President Trump appreciated that an atmosphere of peace and stability was created on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, although distressed with the extreme danger of armed clash only a few months ago, thanks to the proactive peace-loving measures taken by the respected Supreme Leader from the outset of this year,” the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a summary of the meeting.

The media message to the masses was clear: this is a big success for Kim — known in the North as the Marshal — and the result of his wise leadership.

Kim Kyong Sun, who watched the news on a large screen outside Pyongyang’s main train station, said she felt a “radical change” was underway in her country’s relationship with the United States, which she said has been a hostile nation.

But she quickly added: “As long as we have our Marshal, the future of our country will be bright.”

The summit capped a swift and astonishing turn of events that began on New Year’s Day with a pledge by Kim to reach out to the world now that his nuclear forces have been completed. His focus on diplomacy, including earlier meetings with the leaders of China and South Korea, is a sharp contrast with his rapid-fire testing of long-range missiles and the fiery exchanges of threats and insults last year that created real fears of a war on the divided peninsula.

Kim has framed the switch as a natural next step now that he has what he stresses is a credible and viable nuclear arsenal capable of keeping the U.S. at bay. The framing that he went into the summit as an equal and from a position of strength is crucial within North Korea, after enduring years of tough sanctions while it pursued its nuclear ambitions.

Kim’s vows to denuclearize were reported by state media Wednesday within that context — that Pyongyang would respond to easing of what it sees as the hostile U.S. policy with commensurate but gradual moves toward “the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

“Kim Jong Un and Trump had the shared recognition to the effect that it is important to abide by the principle of step-by-step and simultaneous action in achieving peace, stability and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” KCNA reported.

That doesn’t seem to pin the North down to the concrete and unilateral measures Trump said he would demand going into the talks. It’s also unclear what significant changes could occur now that they seem to be moving toward more peaceful relations.

Both sides promised to push the process forward quickly, and Trump and Kim exchanged invitations to each other to visit their nations’ capitals.

Interestingly, the North made no secret of China’s behind-the-scenes presence at the summit. A flurry of media coverage the day Kim arrived in Singapore showed him waving from the door of the specially chartered Air China flight that brought him from Pyongyang.

That is another key to what lies ahead.

Kim’s biggest task in the months ahead will most likely be to try to push China, his country’s key trading partner, to lift its sanctions and to entice South Korea to start once again offering crucial investment in joint ventures and infrastructure projects.

In the meantime, however, the North appears to be basking in it leader’s new found status as the most popular kid on the block.

“Singapore, the country of the epoch-making meeting much awaited by the whole world, was awash with thousands of domestic and foreign journalists and a large crowd of masses to see this day’s moment which will remain long in history,” KCNA noted.

And, for the time being at least, North Koreans are sticking to their normal slogans of support and loyalty when asked how they feel about what could be some very momentous changes on the horizon.

“We’ll march forward to the final victory for the cause of socialism along the road pointed out by the respected supreme leader, who possesses brilliant wisdom and outstanding political ability,” said Choe Sung Il, another Pyongyang resident who watched the news at the train station.

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — War profiteers, terror financiers and drug traffickers sanctioned by the U.S. in recent years have used Dubai’s real-estate market as a haven for their assets, a new report released Tuesday alleges.

The report by the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies, relying on leaked property data from the city-state, offers evidence to support the long-whispered rumors about Dubai’s real-estate boom. It identifies some $100 million in suspicious purchases of apartments and villas across the city of skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates, where foreign ownership fuels construction that now outpaces local demand.

The government-run Dubai Media Office said it could not comment on the report.

For its part, the center known by the acronym C4ADS said Dubai has a “high-end luxury real estate market and lax regulatory environment prizing secrecy and anonymity above all else.” That comes as the U.S. already warns that Dubai’s economic free zones and trade in gold and diamonds poses a risk.

“The permissive nature of this environment has global security implications far beyond the sands of the UAE,” the center said in its report. “In an interconnected global economy with low barriers impeding the movement of funds, a single point of weakness in the regulatory system can empower and enable a range of global illicit actors.”

The properties in question include million-dollar villas on the fronds of the man-made Palm Jumeirah archipelago to an apartment in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Others appear to be one-bedroom apartments in more-affordable neighborhoods in Dubai, the UAE’s biggest city.

Among the highest-profile individuals named in the report is Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and one of that country’s wealthiest businessmen. The U.S. has sanctioned Makhlouf, who owns the largest mobile phone carrier Syriatel, for using “intimidation and his close ties to the Assad regime to obtain improper financial advantages at the expense of ordinary Syrians.”

Makhlouf and his brother, also sanctioned by the U.S., own real estate on the Palm Jumeirah, according to the report. They also have ties to two UAE-based free-zone companies. The UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms led from oil-rich Abu Dhabi, has opposed Assad in his country’s yearslong war.

The UAE also opposes Hezbollah, the Lebanese political party and militia group backed by Iran. However, C4ADS’ report identified at least one property directly linked to Lebanese businessmen Kamel and Issam Amhaz, who the U.S. sanctioned in 2014 for helping Hezbollah “covertly purchase sophisticated electronics” for military drones. The report identified another nearly $70 million in Dubai properties owned by two other shareholders in Amhaz’s sanctioned firms.

Separately, the report identified some $21 million in real estate still held by individuals associated with the Altaf Khanani money laundering organization, a Pakistani ring that aided drug traffickers and Islamic extremists like al-Qaida through its currency exchange houses.

The report identified Dubai properties owned by Hassein Eduardo Figueroa Gomez, a Mexican national indicted in the U.S. for importing mass quantities of chemicals needed to make methamphetamine. It also identified properties owned by two Iranians previously sanctioned for their work on Iran’s missile program.

Dubai, an Arabian Peninsula entrepot, long has been a favorite port of call for those skirting the law. Gold smuggling into India served as one of the emirate’s most lucrative trades for the decades after the pearling industry collapsed. Guns, drugs and other illicit cargo also moved through the city-state.

Over time, however, Dubai itself became a haven. The emirate’s decision in 2002 to allow foreign ownership of so-called “freehold” properties drew a rapid construction boom that attracted developers from across the world, including President Donald Trump, whose name is on two golf course projects and villas.

Dubai’s easily flipped luxury properties offered an opportunity for those wanting to park money they otherwise couldn’t spend. The Federation of American Scientists warned based on news reports in 2002 that “money-laundering activity in the UAE may total $1 billion annually.”

Money quickly flowed in from all corners, especially those now involved in the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, likely topping that.

From Kabul, the Afghan capital, over $190 million in physical cash left for Dubai in three months in 2009 on commercial flights, according to an October 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks. In 2008, some $600 million, as well as 100 million euros and 80 million British pounds, made the trip, according to the cable.

A banking scandal in Afghanistan in 2010 saw regulators demand that a banker turn over 18 Palm Jumeirah villas and two business properties. The brother of former Afghan President Hamad Karzai also profited from the sale of a Palm Jumeirah villa at the time.

In Pakistan, authorities believe citizens invested $8 billion in Dubai’s property market over four years, possibly to evade taxes, officials said in 2017. Alleged Australian drug kingpins arrested in Dubai last year also owned real estate in the city, while the governments of Nigeria and South Africa also have launched investigations into alleged money laundering involving Dubai.

Unlike in the U.S., where property records are public, Dubai does not offer an accessible database of all its transactions, instead requiring specific details only individual buyers and sellers would have. C4ADS said it relied in part on “private UAE data compiled by real estate and property professionals” offered by a confidential source for its reporting.

The U.S. State Department as recently as this year issued a warning about money laundering in the UAE in its annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, noting the country’s money-exchange shops can allow for “bulk cash smuggling.” The UAE’s economic free zones, real estate sector and its trade in gold and diamonds also pose risks.

“The UAE has demonstrated both a willingness and capability to take action against illicit financial actors if those actors pose a direct national security threat or present a reputational risk to the UAE’s role as the leading regional financial hub,” the State Department said. “However, the UAE needs to continue increasing the resources devoted to investigating, prosecuting and disrupting money laundering.”

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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.”

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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.”

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LiveWire