North, South Korea hold military talks, US to suspend drills on Korean peninsula

Photo handout photo taken and provided by the South Korean Defense Ministry shows South Korea’s chief delegate Major General Kim Do-gyun (R) shaking hands with his North Korean counterpart An Ik San (L) during their high-level military talks in Panmunjom, the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas, June 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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North, South Korea hold military talks, US to suspend drills on Korean peninsula

SEOUL- WASHINGTON: Large military drills between the United States and South Korea have been “suspended indefinitely,” a senior US official told AFP on Thursday.
“Major military exercises have been suspended indefinitely on the Korean peninsula,” the official said, two days after President Donald Trump said the US would halt joint military exercises with its security ally Seoul.
Earlier, North and South Korea failed to reach any concrete agreement during their military talks on Thursday, as two-star generals from both sides met just two days after US President Donald Trump floated his plan to halt joint exercises with South Korea.
The talks, their first in more than a decade, held in the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone (DMZ), followed on from an inter-Korean summit in April at which leaders of the two Koreas had agreed to defuse tensions and cease “all hostile acts.”
They agreed to implement a 2004 agreement, in which the two sides’ militaries vowed to work to prevent unexpected clash in the West Sea, a joint statement said.
They also discussed the planned establishment of a hotline between the two militaries, but failed to set the specific time table for its reinstatement.
Kim Do-gyun, the South’s lead negotiator who is in charge of North Korea policy at the Defense Ministry, said before departing for the DMZ that the two sides would discuss the schedule of a ministerial meeting, which was not addressed in a joint statement.
“The nature of the tasks was not to be resolved at once,” Kim told reporters after the meeting.
The talks came two days after Trump said he would stop “expensive, provocative” war games with the South, following his historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump’s move had caught Seoul officials off guard as Washington did not give them a prior notice. But South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday his government would have to be flexible when it came to military pressure on North Korea if it was sincere about denuclearization.
The military talks had been initially slated for May, but were postponed after the North called off another planned high-level meeting in protest against US-South Korean air combat exercises.
The process was put back on track during a surprise second summit early this month between Kim and Moon.
The last time the two Koreas held military talks was in 2007.
Ahn Ik-san, the North’s chief delegate, said the delay was due to “certain headwinds” without elaborating, adding the two sides should overcome future obstacles based on mutual understanding and the spirit of the inter-Korean summit.


Silent on Cohen, Trump says Manafort conviction ‘a disgrace’ but ‘does not involve me’

Updated 42 min 19 sec ago
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Silent on Cohen, Trump says Manafort conviction ‘a disgrace’ but ‘does not involve me’

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump says the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on financial crimes is “a disgrace.”
But he hasn’t publicly reacted to former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas to felonies, including campaign finance violations he stated he carried out in coordination with Trump.
Manafort was convicted Tuesday in Virginia on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice. Cohen pleaded guilty in New York, saying he and Trump arranged the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.
Trump told reporters in West Virginia that Manafort’s conviction “has nothing to do with Russian collusion.” Of Manafort’s crimes, he says: “It doesn’t involve meRudy Giuliani  Trump’s personal lawyer says criminal charges against Michael Cohen don’t include the assertion he made in court that Trump directed him to make hush-money payments to influence the election.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that there’s “no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges.”
Giuliani’s comments came after Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including campaign finance fraud.
The charging documents say Cohen made the payments “at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign.”
Cohen told a judge that he and Trump arranged to pay Daniels $130,000 and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal as the 2016 election loomed.

Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.

Giuliani echoed Deputy US Attorney Robert Khuzami’s assessment that the charges against Cohen “reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”

Michael Cohen’s lawyer is suggesting President Donald Trump should face criminal charges for directing his longtime “fixer” to make hush-money payments to two women to influence the election.
Lawyer Lanny Davis tweeted on Tuesday: “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?“
Davis’ comments came after Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including campaign finance fraud.
Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
Davis tweeted that by pleading guilty Cohen was “fulfilling his promise” to “put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump.”
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer says Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to charges involving hush-money payments should open the door to questioning President Donald Trump about “what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it.”
Cohen said in court on Tuesday that he coordinated with Trump to pay Daniels $130,000 and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to influence the election. Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
Daniels said she and lawyer Michael Avenatti felt vindicated and look forward to apologies “from the people who claimed we were wrong.”
Avenatti is flirting with running for president in 2020 as a Democrat. He said the likelihood of that happening will dwindle if Trump resigns or decides not to run for re-election.
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