Japan PM Abe open to summit with North Korea’s Kim

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and North Korea's Kim Jong Un. (AP)
Updated 26 September 2018
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Japan PM Abe open to summit with North Korea’s Kim

  • Trump in his own UN address earlier Tuesday pointed to his “bold and new push for peace” and saluted Kim’s courage

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a longtime hard-liner on North Korea, said Tuesday he was willing to meet Kim Jong Un after the once reclusive leader’s historic summit with US President Donald Trump.
Abe, who one year ago warned at the United Nations that the window for diplomacy with North Korea was closing, took a more open but still cautious tone in his latest address to the world body.
But he said that any summit would be devoted to resolving a decades-old row over North Korea’s abductions of Japanese civilians — a deeply emotive issue for much of the Japanese public on which Abe built his political career.
“In order to resolve the abduction issue, I am also ready to break the shell of mutual distrust with North Korea, get off to a new start and meet face to face with Chairman Kim Jong Un,” Abe said in his UN address.
“But if we are to have one, then I am determined that it must contribute to the resolution of the abduction issue.”
He stressed that no summit was yet in the works — and appealed to Kim to show his own readiness.
“North Korea is now at a crossroads at which it will either seize or fail to seize the historic opportunity it was afforded,” Abe said.

North Korea kidnapped scores of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train the regime’s spies in Japanese language and culture.
Japan’s then prime minister Junichiro Koizumi traveled to Pyongyang in 2002 and 2004 to seek a new relationship with the current leader’s father Kim Jong Il and was told by North Korea that remaining abduction victims were dead — a stance adamantly rejected by Japanese family members and campaigners.
Speculation has been rising that Abe could meet with Kim, who reportedly told Trump during their summit in June in Singapore that he was willing to talk to arch-enemy Japan.
With South Korea’s dovish President Moon Jae-in also courting Kim, fears have risen in Japan that it could be shut out of any ultimate resolution on North Korea if it refuses dialogue.
Trump in his own UN address earlier Tuesday pointed to his “bold and new push for peace” and saluted Kim’s courage.
It was a far cry from a year ago, when Trump stunned assembled leaders by threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea and belittling “rocket man” Kim.
Despite Trump’s upbeat assessment of his own diplomacy, many analysts are skeptical on how much North Korea has changed, saying the regime has already conducted the tests it needed to build its nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea would be sure to press its own demand in any summit with Japan — an apology for Tokyo’s harsh 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.
Beyond any moral dimension to an apology, North Korea would be hoping to secure badly needed cash. Japan paid South Korea some $800 million in loans, grants and credits when it established relations in 1965.

Abe will meet Wednesday with Trump, with whom he quickly formed a bond after the tycoon’s shock election victory. But Japan fears growing friction with Trump over trade.
While Trump has directed his fury on China, he has frequently complained about a deficit with Japan. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi have been meeting to address US complaints about trade barriers.
Abe devoted much of his address to trade, saying that Japan supported 856,000 jobs in the United States — more than any country except Britain.
Noting Japan’s limited natural resources, Abe said: “The very first country to prove through its own experience the principle that exists between trade and growth — a principle that has now become common sense — was Japan.”


Trump declares emergency for US-Mexico border wall, House panel launches probe

Updated 16 February 2019
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Trump declares emergency for US-Mexico border wall, House panel launches probe

  • The Republican president’s move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall
  • Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval, an action Democrats vowed to challenge as a violation of the US Constitution.

The Republican president’s move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall that Trump insists is necessary to curtail illegal immigration he blames for bringing crime and drugs into the United States.

Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners, saying that Trump’s declaration violates the US Constitution and that the planned wall would infringe on their property rights.

Both California and New York said that they, too, planned to file lawsuits.

Hours after Trump’s announcement, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee said it had launched an investigation into the emergency declaration.

In a letter to Trump, committee Democrats asked him to make available for a hearing White House and Justice Department officials involved in the action. They also requested legal documents on the decision that led to the declaration, setting a deadline of next Friday.

“We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system,” said the letter, signed by Chairman Jerrold Nadler and other top Democrats on the panel.

Trump has been demanding for a wall on the 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) southern border

Trump on Friday also signed a bipartisan government spending bill that would prevent another partial government shutdown by funding several agencies that otherwise would have closed on Saturday.

The funding bill represented a legislative defeat for him since it contains no money for his proposed wall — the focus of weeks of conflict between Trump and Democrats in Congress.

Trump made no mention of the bill in rambling comments to reporters in the White House’s Rose Garden.

He had demanded that Congress provide him with $5.7 billion in wall funding as part of legislation to fund the agencies. That triggered a historic, 35-day government shutdown in December and January that hurt the US economy and his opinion poll numbers.

By reorienting his quest for wall funding toward a legally uncertain strategy based on declaring a national emergency, Trump risks plunging into a lengthy legislative and legal battle with Democrats and dividing his fellow Republicans — many of whom expressed grave reservations on Friday about the president’s action.

Fifteen Democrats in the Republican-controlled Senate introduced legislation on Thursday to prevent Trump from invoking emergency powers to transfer funds to his wall from accounts Congress has already committed to other projects.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer swiftly responded to Trump’s declaration.

“The president’s actions clearly violate the Congress’s exclusive power of the purse, which our Founders enshrined in the Constitution,” they said in a statement. “The Congress will defend our constitutional authorities in the Congress, in the courts, and in the public, using every remedy available.”

Members of the migrant caravan that has made its way from central America to the US-Mexico border

The first legal challenge, filed in federal court in Washington, came from three Texas landowners along the Rio Grande river claiming they were informed the US government would seek to build a border wall on their properties if money for the project were available in 2019.

The lawsuit, filed on their behalf by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, also named the Frontera Audubon Society as a plaintiff whose “members’ ability to observe wildlife will be impaired” by construction of a border wall and resulting habitat damage.

The suit contests Trump’s assertion of a national emergency at the border to justify the president’s action.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, describing the supposed border crisis touted by Trump as “made-up,” and New York state’s Democratic attorney general, Letitia James, both said they planned to challenge Trump in court.

Trump acknowledged his order would face a lengthy court fight.

“I expect to be sued. I shouldn’t be sued. ... We’ll win in the Supreme Court,” he predicted.

Trump may have also undermined his administration’s argument about the urgency of the situation when he told reporters, “I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster.”

In their letter to Trump, House Judiciary Democrats said that language had left them “troubled.”

Both the House and the Senate could pass a resolution terminating the emergency by majority vote. However, any such measure would then go to Trump, who would likely veto it. Overriding the veto would require a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

Although Trump says a wall is needed to curb illegal immigrants and illicit drugs coming across the border, statistics show that illegal immigration via the border is at a 20-year low and that many drug shipments come through legal ports of entry.

Confronted with those statistics by reporters at the Rose Garden event, Trump said they were “wrong.”

Also present were a half-dozen women holding poster-sized pictures of family members killed by illegal immigrants. Trump noted their presence in announcing the emergency declaration.

He estimated his emergency declaration could free up as much as $8 billion to pay for part of the wall. Estimates of its total cost run as high as $23 billion.

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for the wall. It was one of his biggest applause lines at his campaign rallies. Mexico firmly refused to pay, and now Trump wants US taxpayers to cover the costs.