Trump expects second Kim meeting in ‘not-too-distant future’

A South Korean newspaper deliveryman collects newspapers in Seoul reporting the summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 January 2019
0

Trump expects second Kim meeting in ‘not-too-distant future’

  • Trump said he had watched coverage of Kim’s New Year speech on the US Public Broadcasting Service
  • Kim vowed to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when he met Trump for the first time at a summit in Singapore in June

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had received a “great” letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and would probably meet him again in the not-too-distant future as part of efforts to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump defended stuttering US negotiations with Kim, saying that if it had not been for his administration “you’d be having a nice big fat war in Asia.” He reiterated that there was no hurry.
“I’m not in any rush. I don’t have to rush. All I know is there’s no rockets, there’s no testing,” he said, referring to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests that have been halted since the second half of 2017.
Trump said he had watched coverage of Kim’s New Year speech on the US Public Broadcasting Service.
“They said that in Chairman Kim’s speech he really wants to get together, he wants to denuclearize and a lot of good things are happening,” Trump said.
“They really do want to do something. Now, does that mean it’s going to be done? Who knows? A deal’s a deal, you never know, but I tell you, we’ve established a very good relationship with North Korea.”
“We’ll probably now have another meeting. He’d like to meet, I’d like to meet,” Trump said. “We’ll set that up, we’ll be setting that up in the not-too-distant future.”
Kim vowed to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula when he met Trump for the first time at a summit in Singapore in June, but there has been little concrete progress since.
Kim said in a nationally televised New Year address on Tuesday that he was ready to meet again with Trump anytime, but warned he may take a “new path” if US sanctions and pressure continued.
Trump, who in 2017 threatened to rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea because of the threat its nuclear weapons and missiles posed to the United States, said a world war had been averted.
“That was going to be a war — there could have been a World War Three to be honest with you ... And instead, we have somebody who I really think wants to get on to economic development and making a lot of success and money, frankly, for his country.”
Trump said North Korea had “tremendous” potential, and added: “We’ll help them out too.”
On Monday, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that Kim had sent a message to Trump regarding the stalled nuclear talks. The report did not include details about the “letter-like” communication.
Trump told reporters on Wednesday the letter was “great” and that he would love to read it out loud, but did not do so.
Trump has said previously that a second summit with Kim was likely in January or February, though he wrote on Twitter last month he was “in no hurry.”
’Sinister intention’
In his address on Tuesday, Kim said denuclearization was his “firm will” and North Korea had “declared at home and abroad that we would neither make and test nuclear weapons any longer nor use and proliferate them.”
However, he warned that North Korea might be “compelled to explore a new path” to defend its sovereignty if the United States “seeks to force something upon us unilaterally ... and remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure.”
In spite of Trump’s words, Kim’s comments have fueled doubts over whether North Korea intends to give up a nuclear weapons program it has long considered essential to its security.
Analysts said Kim’s message sent clear signals that North Korea, which has sought acceptance as a “responsible” nuclear power, was willing to stay in talks with Washington and Seoul this year — but on its own terms.
North Korea’s main state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary on Thursday last year saw “wonderful changes” and “great movements” in North Korea’s relations with the South Korea and the United States, but progress in inter-Korean relations were “locked up in stagnation” because of USpolicies.
“The US still remains unchanged in the policy hostile toward the DPRK,” the paper wrote, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The paper accused the United States of having a “a sinister intention to deprive the DPRK of its nuclear weapons and bring it to its knees without goodwill to build a new, good relationship with the DPRK.”
“The US is urged to do what it should do for the improvement of the DPRK-US relations, not making useless admonition while meddling in the issue of north-south relations, an internal issue of the Korean nation,” it said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made several trips to Pyongyang last year but the two sides have yet to reschedule an abruptly canceled November meeting between him and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol aimed at paving the way for a second summit.
As well as demanding a lifting of sanctions, Pyongyang has been seeking an official end to the 1950-1953 Korean War in response to its initial, unilateral steps that have included dismantling its only known nuclear testing site and a missile engine facility.
US officials have said the extent of initial North Korean steps was not confirmed and could be easily reversed. Washington has halted some large-scale military exercises with South Korea to aid negotiations, but has called for strict global sanctions enforcement until North Korea’s full, verifiable denuclearization.


Police slam US actor, say he staged racist attack to boost career

Updated 22 February 2019
0

Police slam US actor, say he staged racist attack to boost career

  • Jussie Smollett, the African-American actor who stars on Fox music industry drama ‘Empire,’ went from victim to suspect after he reported an assault late last month
  • Smollett accused of first sending himself a fake threatening letter and then staging an attack to tap into Americans’ anxieties over political and racial divisions

CHICAGO: An American TV actor was criminally charged Thursday for allegedly masterminding an elaborate “publicity stunt” that sought to exploit the “pain and anger of racism” with a staged assault on the streets of Chicago.

It was the latest twist in a weeks-long saga that has seen 36-year-old Jussie Smollett, the African-American actor who stars on Fox music industry drama “Empire,” go from victim to suspect after he reported an assault late last month.

An incredulous Chicago police chief accused Smollett of first sending himself a fake threatening letter and then staging an attack to tap into Americans’ anxieties over political and racial divisions, because he was allegedly “dissatisfied with his salary.”

In a sign of the national attention the case has drawn, President Donald Trump weighed in Thursday, taking issue with the fact Smollett claimed his assailants invoked the president’s “Make America Great Again” slogan along with racist slurs during the purported attack.

“‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told an emotionally-charged news conference — during which he lashed out angrily at the actor for sullying the city’s image.

“Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process,” he said. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Smollett turned himself in early Thursday morning, was arrested and charged with a felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, and was granted $100,000 bond.

He was freed from jail late in the afternoon, and said nothing to the throng of media. If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.

His legal team pushed back hard later Thursday, claiming the police press conference had been prejudicial and “the presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon.”

“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” attorney Jack Prior told AFP in a statement.

“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

Smollett had claimed that two masked men beat him late at night in downtown Chicago, poured bleach on him and tied a rope around his neck — but police grew suspicious of his account after they failed to corroborate it.

Trump took aim at the actor for having tarnished his supporters, tweeting: “what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?“

Meanwhile, Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, which produce “Empire” and had stood by the actor, said “we understand the seriousness of this matter” and “are considering our options.”

Authorities said the two men who staged the attack with Smollett were brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, who have both previously worked on “Empire,” and were acquaintances of the actor — while one provided him with drugs.

The brothers have cooperated with police since their arrest late last week and have not been charged with a crime.

Smollett allegedly first concocted a false threatening letter he had sent to himself — which is under a separate FBI investigation — and when that did not get enough attention, paid the brothers to have the assault staged.

Prosecutor Risa Lanier detailed an elaborate plot that Smollett allegedly orchestrated with exacting detail — telling the brothers when and how to attack him, including pointing out a street camera he assumed would capture the event, but was in fact pointing in a different direction.

The allegations were backed by a mountain of evidence, including a cashed check that Smollett wrote to pay for the stunt, authorities said.

Initial news of Smollett’s claims led to widespread condemnation and shock, and an outpouring of support from celebrities and politicians alike, including Democratic 2020 presidential candidates Cory Booker and Kamala Harris who denounced “an attempted modern day lynching.”

Trump initially described the alleged attack as “horrible.”

Since then, Smollett’s story has become a cautionary tale in an era where incomplete information is quickly spread via social media.

Opinion writers have complained about a rush to judgment, and politicians, celebrities and nonprofit groups have felt pressure to explain their initial reactions.

The president of the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign said the Smollett news was “both devastating and frustrating.”

“I want to ask everyone feeling angry, hurt and disappointed to channel that into productive activism — because there are thousands targeted by hate violence each year who need our help,” Chad Griffin tweeted.