US, North Korea to hold talks on second Trump-Kim summit

US President Donald Trump meets with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit in Singapore. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019
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US, North Korea to hold talks on second Trump-Kim summit

  • Kim Yong Chol, a hard-line former spy chief, was due to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday
  • If North Korea took concrete steps toward abandoning its weapons programs, Washington could offer a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War

WASHINGTON: North Korea’s lead negotiator in nuclear diplomacy with the US is expected to hold talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and could also meet President Donald Trump on Friday during a visit aimed at clearing the way for a second US-North Korea summit.
Kim Yong Chol arrived in Washington on Thursday evening for his first visit since he came last June ahead of a landmark meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Efforts made since then to get Pyongyang to denuclearize appear to have stalled.
Hours before Kim Yong Chol’s arrival, Trump — who declared the day after the June 12 Singapore summit that the nuclear threat posed by North Korea was over — unveiled a revamped US missile defense strategy that singled out the country as an ongoing and “extraordinary threat.”
Kim Yong Chol, a hard-line former spy chief, was due to meet Pompeo on Friday, when he could also go to see Trump at the White House, a person familiar with the matter said.
The visit is a sign of potential movement in a diplomatic process that has struggled for months and, according to the source, could yield an announcement of plans for another summit.
However, there has been no indication of any narrowing of differences over US demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the US or over Pyongyang’s demand for a lifting of punishing sanctions.
Pompeo had planned to meet Kim Yong Chol to discuss a second summit last November, but the meeting was postponed at the last moment. Kim Jong Un said in a New Year speech he was willing to meet Trump “at any time.”
On his last visit to Washington, Kim Yong Chol delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un to Trump that opened the way for the summit in Singapore.
That meeting yielded a vague pledge from the North Korean leader to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, which led Trump to declare that there was “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”
Despite the lack of tangible progress since, Trump has been keen to hold another summit.
CNN quoted a source familiar with the US-North Korea talks as saying that Kim Yong Chol would be carrying a new letter for Trump.
US-based analysts said that the North Koreans would likely be seeking a clearer message from the Trump administration on any concessions it may be willing to make.
“The North Koreans need a real indication of what the US is willing to put on the table,” said Jenny Town, a North Korea expert at 38 North, a Washington-based think tank.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said on Wednesday that if North Korea took concrete steps toward abandoning its weapons programs, Washington could offer a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, humanitarian aid or a permanent channel for bilateral dialogue.
Victor Cha, a former White House adviser on Asia under President George W. Bush, suggested that Trump may be so desperate for a policy “win” that he could be vulnerable to a bad deal with North Korea.
“I worry that the timing works to North Korea’s benefit,” Cha said, citing pressures on Trump such as the partial US government shutdown and the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian ties to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Earlier this month, Trump defended the stuttering progress on North Korea by saying that Pyongyang had stopped missile and bomb testing and if it had not been for his administration “you’d be having a nice big fat war in Asia.”
Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the US and North Korea, has been widely touted as the most likely venue for a second Trump-Kim summit.


Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said California will probably sue President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)
Updated 30 min 23 sec ago
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Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

  • The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico

SAN FRANCISCO: Sixteen US states sued President Donald Trump’s administration Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the southern border with Mexico, saying the move violated the constitution.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California, said the president’s order was contrary to the Presentment Clause that outlines legislative procedures and the Appropriations Clause, which defines Congress as the final arbiter of public funds.
The move had been previously announced by Xavier Becerra the attorney general of California who said his state and others had legal standing because they risked losing moneys intended for military projects, disaster assistance and other purposes.
Several Republican senators have decried the emergency declaration, saying it establishes a dangerous precedent and amounts to executive overreach.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia are party to the complaint seeking an injunction.
“Use of those additional federal funds for the construction of a border wall is contrary to Congress’s intent in violation of the US Constitution, including the Presentment Clause and Appropriations Clause,” the complaint said.
It added that Trump had “veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making.”
“Congress has repeatedly rebuffed the president’s insistence to fund a border wall, recently resulting in a record 35-day partial government shutdown over the border wall dispute,” the document read.
“After the government reopened, Congress approved, and the president signed into law, a $1.375 billion appropriation for fencing along the southern border, but Congress made clear that funding could not be used to build President Trump’s proposed border wall.”
The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico.
Friday’s declaration enables the president to divert funds from the Pentagon’s military construction budget and other sources.