Trump, Moon discuss North Korea’s threat to scrap summit

A man watches a TV screen showing file footage of US President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea (AP/Ahn Young-joon)
Updated 20 May 2018
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Trump, Moon discuss North Korea’s threat to scrap summit

  • Kim Jong Un has threatened to pull out of the talks with the US after calls for a unilateral nuclear abandonment
  • North Korea also canceled at the last minute a high-level meeting with the South, protesting joint military drills between Seoul and Washington

SEOUL: US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday discussed North Korea’s recent threats to cancel its unprecedented summit with Washington, Seoul’s presidential office said.
After weeks of warm words and diplomatic backslapping, Pyongyang abruptly threatened to pull out of the planned summit next month because of US demands for “unilateral nuclear abandonment,” according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.
North Korea also canceled at the last minute a high-level meeting with the South, protesting joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.
In a phone conversation on Sunday, Trump and Moon “exchanged views on various actions taken by North Korea recently,” Moon’s office said in a statement.
The two leaders agreed to “work closely” for the success of the landmark summit in Singapore on June 12, which would be the first meeting between a sitting US President and a North Korean leader.
They are due to meet in Washington on Tuesday.
North Korea’s sudden shift in attitude followed a weeks-long charm offensive that has seen leader Kim Jong Un hold a historic summit with Moon and meet twice with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
At a dramatic summit last month in the Demilitarised Zone dividing their two countries, Kim and Moon pledged to pursue nuclear disarmament and a peace treaty.
Pyongyang also raised hopes ahead of the US summit by announcing it will destroy its nuclear testing site next week.
But the promise is open to interpretation on both sides and the North has spent decades developing its atomic arsenal, culminating last year in its sixth nuclear test — by far its biggest to date — and the launch of missiles capable of reaching the US.


EU hits Venezuela vice president Delcy Rodriguez with sanctions: Statement

Updated 49 min 21 sec ago
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EU hits Venezuela vice president Delcy Rodriguez with sanctions: Statement

  • EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday formally approved travel bans and asset freezes
  • In January, Europe added seven senior Venezuelan officials including the interior minister to its sanctions blacklist

LUXEMBOURG: Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez was among 11 senior officials hit Monday by EU sanctions over irregularities in the reelection of President Nicolas Maduro, the bloc announced.
“The persons listed are responsible for human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. The measures include a travel ban and an asset freeze,” the European Union said after its 28 foreign ministers backed the move at a meeting in Luxembourg.

After the 28 EU states pledged last month to "swiftly" punish Caracas with measures, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday formally approved travel bans and asset freezes against the 11, who were to be named later in the official announcement.
The EU said last month that Maduro's re-election "lacked any credibility" and did not meet even "minimum international standards" for free and fair polls.
In January, Europe added seven senior Venezuelan officials including the interior minister to its sanctions blacklist, after in November enforcing an embargo on weapons and equipment that could be used for political repression.
Maduro won 68 percent of the vote in the May election, which was boycotted by the opposition and condemned as illegitimate by much of the international community.