Trump downplays abuses by Kim Jong Un’s regime

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un listens to US President Donald Trump as they meet in a one-on-one bilateral session at the start of their summit on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, on June 12, 2018. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Trump downplays abuses by Kim Jong Un’s regime

  • According to Trump’s own State Department, Kim’s regime holds between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners in forced labor camps, facing torture and forced starvation.

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump downplayed abuses by Kim Jong Un’s regime in an interview following his summit with the North Korean leader, saying that other countries had also done “bad things.”
“A lot of other people (have) done some really bad things. I mean, I could go through a lot of nations where a lotta bad things were done,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.
He praised Kim as “a very smart guy” and “a great negotiator,” saying that “I think we understand each other.”
According to Trump’s own State Department, Kim’s regime holds between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners in forced labor camps, facing torture and forced starvation.
As well as abuses at home, Kim is also suspected of ordering the assassination of his brother at a Malaysian airport last year.
Trump and Kim met in Singapore on Tuesday — an unprecedented encounter that saw the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy shake hands with the third generation scion of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations’ flags.
Critics have charged the summit legitimized Kim and said the summit was more about headlines than substantive progress.
Trump also had kind words for Chinese President Xi Jinping in the interview, describing him as “an incredible guy” and noting that he is “essentially president for life. That’s pretty good.”


Greece ‘turning a page’ as eurozone declares crisis over

Updated 28 min 15 sec ago
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Greece ‘turning a page’ as eurozone declares crisis over

  • The eurozone ministers’ agreement comes nearly a decade after Athens finances spun out of control, sparking three bailouts and threatening the country’s euro membership.
  • EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici: “The Greek crisis ends here tonight.”

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday said the country was “turning a page” after eurozone ministers declared its crisis over as they granted Athens debt relief under a bailout exit strategy.
The eurozone ministers’ agreement comes nearly a decade after Athens finances spun out of control, sparking three bailouts and threatening the country’s euro membership.
“Yesterday we reached a historic agreement on Greece’s debt with the Eurogroup,” Tsipras told the country’s president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“We are turning a page,” he said, adding that Greece had to remain on the path of reform.
Following the eurozone ministers’ hard-fought agreement declared earlier Friday, Greece is slated to leave its third financial rescue since 2010 on August 20.
“The Greek crisis ends here tonight,” said EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, after marathon talks in Luxembourg.
The deal was expected to be an easy one, but last-minute resistance by Germany — Greece’s long bailout nemesis and biggest creditor — dragged the talks on for six hours.
The ministers agreed to extend maturities by 10 years on major parts of its total debt obligations, a mountain that has reached close to double the country’s annual economic output.
They also agreed to disburse €15 billion ($17.5 billion) to ease Greece’s exit from the rescue program.
This would leave Greece with a hefty €24 billion safety cushion, officials said.
“The agreed debt relief is bigger than we had expected,” Citi European Economics said in a note.
“In particular, the 10-year extension of the EFSF loans’ maturity and most importantly the grace period on interest payments is a significant development,” they added.
“The Greek government is happy with the agreement,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said after the talks.
But “to make this worthwhile we have to make sure that the Greek people must quickly see concrete results... they need to feel the change in their own pockets,” he added.
The eight-year crisis toppled four governments and shrank the economy by 25 percent. Unemployment soared and still hovers over 20 percent, sending thousands of young educated Greeks abroad.
Optimism is tempered by Greece’s remaining fiscal obligations, which will demand serious discipline, observers say.
“This is a very tight program. A surplus of 3.5 percent to 2022 and 2.2 percent (on average) to 2060 is not easy at all,” Kostas Boukas, asset management director at Beta Securities, told Athens 9,84 radio.
“We’ll have to see if the pledges will be kept, especially as they depend on international developments as well,” he said.
Under pressure from its creditors, Greece has already agreed to slash pensions again in 2019, and reduce the tax-free income threshold for millions of people in 2020.
Further cuts will be made to maintain the 3.5-percent surplus, if necessary.
“It would be a terrible mistake to cultivate illusions that the end of the bailout means a return to normality,” said pro-opposition daily Ta Nea.
“What follows is tough oversight which no other country has experienced in a post-bailout period,” the daily said.
The European Commission has already specified that Greece will remain under fiscal supervision until it repays 75 percent of its loans.
Athens has received €273.7 billion in assistance since 2010, enabling it to avoid punishing borrowing rates on debt markets.
The International Monetary Fund, led by the tough-talking Christine Lagarde, welcomed the debt relief, but cited reservations about Greece’s obligations over the long term.
“In the medium term analysis there is no doubt in our minds that Greece will be able to reaccess the markets,” Lagarde said after the talks.
“As far as the longer term is concerned we have concerns,” she added.
The reform-pushing IMF played an active role in the two first Greek bailouts, but took only an observer role in the third in the belief that Greece’s debt pile was unsustainable in the long term.