Trump releases ‘very nice’ letter from Kim Jong Un

President Donald Trump released a letter from Kim Jong Un in which the North Korean leader describes his June 12 summit with Trump in Singapore, and the resulting joint statement agreed by both sides, as the start of a meaningful journey. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Trump releases ‘very nice’ letter from Kim Jong Un

  • A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea Trump tweeted alongside a copy of the letter dated July 6
  • However after Pompeo visit to Pyongyang North warned that the future of the peace process was being jeopardized by overbearing US demands

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump Thursday released a letter from Kim Jong Un, in which the North Korean leader voices confidence in efforts to end their nuclear standoff, while calling on his US counterpart to take “practical actions” to build trust.
“A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea,” Trump tweeted alongside a copy of the letter dated July 6 — the day that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Pyongyang for what turned out to be difficult talks with Kim’s regime.
“Great progress being made!” Trump added in his tweet.
In the letter Kim describes his June 12 summit with Trump in Singapore, and the resulting joint statement agreed by both sides, as the “start of a meaningful journey.”
“I firmly believe that the strong will, sincere efforts and unique approach of myself and Your Excellency Mr. President aimed at opening up a new future between the DPRK and the US will sure surely come to fruition,” Kim writes.
“I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr. President for the improvement of relations between the two countries and the faithful implementation of the joint statement,” he adds.
The North Korean leader also voices hope that “the invariable trust and confidence in Your Excellency Mr. President will be further strengthened in the future process of taking practical actions.”
Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang for two days last week in a bid to flesh out denuclearization commitments made during last month’s historic summit between Trump and Kim.
North Korea has long trumpeted a denuclearization goal, but one that it sees as a lengthy process of undefined multilateral disarmament on the entire Korean peninsula, rather than a unilateral dismantlement of its nuclear arsenal.
Speaking afterwards in Tokyo, Pompeo insisted the talks were making progress and were being conducted in “good faith.”
But in stark contrast, Pyongyang’s take was overwhelmingly negative, with the North warning that the future of the peace process was being jeopardized by overbearing US demands for its unilateral nuclear disarmament.


Macron’s security aide charged over assaults caught on video

Updated 22 July 2018
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Macron’s security aide charged over assaults caught on video

  • The incident is the most damaging scandal to hit Macron since he took office last year
  • An aide to Macron and an employee of the ruling party were caught on video assaulting May Day protesters

PARIS: A former top security aide for French President Emmanuel Macron was charged Sunday along with an employee of the ruling party after they were caught on video assaulting May Day protesters, footage that went viral on social media.
In the most damaging scandal to hit Macron since he took office last year, Alexandre Benalla and Vincent Crase were charged with “gang violence,” Paris prosecutors said.
Three high-ranking police officers, already suspended on suspicion they illegally gave Benalla video surveillance footage of the incidents to help him try to clear his name, were charged with misappropriation of the images and violating professional secrecy.
The president has yet to comment on the scandal, but his office said Benalla was punished in May with a two-week suspension from active duty.
Yet Benalla continued to appear in Macron’s security details.
The opposition accuses Macron, who came to power on pledges to restore transparency and integrity to the nation’s highest office in order to ensure a “republic of responsibility,” of covering up for Benalla.
Benalla, 26, was fired Friday after video footage emerged showing him hitting a man at least twice as riot police looked on while breaking up a May Day protest in Paris.
Benalla, who was wearing a police helmet with visor as well as a police armband, was additionally charged with impersonating a police officer, as well as complicity in the unauthorized use of surveillance footage.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb is to appear before parliament on Monday morning, with some MPs warning they will demand his resignation if he knew about the incident but kept quiet.
After publishing the first video of the incident last Wednesday, French daily Le Monde posted a second video showing Benalla violently wrestling a young woman to the ground during the scuffles on a square near the Rue Mouffetard, a picturesque Left Bank street.
Just days after the May 1 demonstrations, which were marred this year by anarchists who clashed with police, Macron had tweeted that “everything will be done so that those responsible will be identified and held accountable for their actions.”
In a third video, published by the Mediapart investigative news site, police officers are seen kicking and punching the young man even after he has been immobilized on the sidewalk.
The man and woman seen in the videos have come forward and plan to testify, a source close to the inquiry said.
The government has been forced to suspend debate on a constitutional reform bill after a revolt by lawmakers, who have announced investigations by both the National Assembly and Senate.
“If Macron doesn’t explain himself the Benalla affair will become the Macron affair,” far-right leader Marine Le Pen posted on Twitter.
“Why the devil did he insist on protecting a second-rank employee who should have been kicked out of the Elysee months ago?” rightwing daily Le Figaro asked in an editorial Sunday.
But ruling Republic on the Move (LREM) party spokesman Gabriel Attal defended the president’s silence.
If Macron speaks now, “we’d have indignant commentators everywhere saying his comments could influence the inquiry,” Attal said.
Adding to the controversy, Le Monde reported Friday that despite his suspension Benalla was allowed this month to move into a palatial mansion along the Seine reserved for Elysee workers.
He was also being provided with a car and chauffeur, the paper said.
Investigators have searched Benalla’s home in the Paris suburb of Issy-Les-Moulineaux, where a city hall official said Benalla was supposed to have married on Saturday.
The scandal could hardly have come at a worse time for Macron, whose approval ratings fell to a record low of 39 percent last week, defying analysts’ expectations of a post-World Cup bump.
“Macron defenseless,” the Journal du Dimanche said in a front-page headline on Sunday over a picture of the president and Benalla.