Trump says US 'made a lot of progress' with North Korea

This file combination of pictures made on August 10, 2017 shows an image (L) taken on April 15, 2017 of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on a balcony of the Grand People's Study House following a military parade in Pyongyang and an image (R) taken on July 19, 2017 of US President Donald Trump speaking during the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2019

Trump says US 'made a lot of progress' with North Korea

  • Kim Jong Un and Trump first met in June in Singapore, where they signed a vaguely worded document in which Kim pledged to work toward the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”
  • The latest flurry of diplomacy comes little more than a year after Trump was threatening to wipe North Korea off the map

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he had a very good meeting with North Korea's nuclear envoy Kim Yong Chol and the two sides had made "a lot of progress."

Trump will meet for the second time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un around the end of February, the White House said Friday, after Chol paid a rare visit to Washington.
Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, a right-hand man to the North Korean strongman, met the embattled president at the White House for an unusually long 90 minutes as the countries seek a denuclearization accord that could ease decades of hostility.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Trump — who has opined that he and Kim Jong Un fell “in love” after last year’s landmark first summit — would again meet the North Korean leader “near the end of February” at a location to be announced later.
The latest flurry of diplomacy comes little more than a year after Trump was threatening to wipe North Korea off the map, with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests rattling nerves in East Asia.
Sanders praised North Korea’s efforts to reconcile but ruled out, for now, a key demand of Pyongyang — a lifting of sanctions.
“The United States is going to continue to keep pressure and sanctions on North Korea until we see fully and verified denuclearization,” Sanders told reporters.
“We’ve had very good steps in good faith from the North Koreans in releasing the hostages and other moves and so we’ll continue those conversations,” she said.
She was referring to Pyongyang’s quick deportation last year of an American. In 2017, a US student returned home comatose from North Korea and died within days after what a US judge said was torture.

Kim Jong Un and Trump first met in June in Singapore, where they signed a vaguely worded document in which Kim pledged to work toward the “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
But progress stalled soon afterward as Pyongyang and Washington — which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea — disagree over what that means.
Critics say that the Singapore summit was little more than a photo-op. The second round with the young and elusive North Korean leader will again offer a change of headlines for Trump amid a steady barrage of negative reports, including explosive allegations published Thursday by BuzzFeed that he pressured his lawyer to lie to Congress about a project in Russia.
“Let’s hope the second summit produces real results, but don’t hold your breath as we wait for episode two of the Trump-Kim show,” said Michael Fuchs, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress who worked closely with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Abe Denmark, director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said the Singapore summit weakened the security of US allies with little in return.
“With another summit in the making, I hope for tangible progress and fear for a repeat: little movement from Kim, major concessions from Trump,” he said.
But Trump has pointed to the halt in missile launches by North Korea and recently said there would have been “a nice big fat war in Asia” if it were not for his efforts.
Kim Yong Chol is the first North Korean dignitary in nearly two decades to spend the night in Washington, staying at a fashionable hotel a short drive from the White House.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed Kim at the hotel, posing briefly for pictures near a shelf with a framed portrait of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., and later invited the delegation to lunch.
The State Department said that Stephen Biegun, the US special representative on North Korea, would carry on discussions at a conference in Sweden starting on Saturday that will involve Pyongyang officials.

While no decision has been made on location, a Vietnamese government source told AFP that “logistical preparations” were under way to host the summit, most likely in the capital Hanoi or coastal city of Danang.
Vietnam’s cooperation with the United States has been growing for years as Hanoi — much unlike Pyongyang — sets aside memories of war.
US-North Korea tensions began to abate a year ago with the encouragement of South Korea’s dovish president, Moon Jae-in. The Singapore summit marked the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the United States and North Korea, which never formally ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
For Kim, whose family has ruled North Korea with an iron fist for three generations, the stakes are existential as he seeks guarantees of the survival of his regime.
The United States expects Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal, doggedly built by the Kim dynasty despite sanctions and famines.
But North Korea sees the denuclearization goal more broadly, seeking an end to what it sees as US threats as well as strict sanctions on its economy.


UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

Updated 18 August 2019

UK’s Johnson to visit European capitals seeking Brexit breakthrough

  • Johnson will travel for talks with German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron
  • Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit

LONDON: UK's Boris Johnson will visit European capitals this week on his first overseas trip as prime minister, as his government said Sunday it had ordered the scrapping of the decades-old law enforcing its EU membership.

Johnson will travel to Berlin on Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on to Paris Thursday for discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Downing Street confirmed on Sunday, amid growing fears of a no-deal Brexit in two and a half months.

The meetings, ahead of a two-day G7 summit starting Saturday in the southern French resort of Biarritz, are his first diplomatic forays abroad since replacing predecessor Theresa May last month.

Johnson is expected to push for the EU to reopen negotiations over the terms of Brexit or warn that it faces the prospect of Britain's disorderly departure on October 31 -- the date it is due to leave.

European leaders have repeatedly rejected reopening an accord agreed by May last year but then rejected by British lawmakers on three occasions, despite Johnson's threats that the country will leave then without an agreement.

In an apparent show of intent, London announced Sunday that it had ordered the repeal of the European Communities Act, which took Britain into the forerunner to the EU 46 years ago and gives Brussels law supremacy.

The order, signed by Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Friday, is set to take effect on October 31.

"This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels," Barclay said in a statement.

"This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back -- we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances -- delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016."

The moves come as Johnson faces increasing pressure to immediately recall MPs from their summer holidays so that parliament can debate Brexit.

More than 100 lawmakers, who are not due to return until September 3, have demanded in a letter that he reconvene the 650-seat House of Commons and let them sit permanently until October 31.

"Our country is on the brink of an economic crisis, as we career towards a no-deal Brexit," said the letter, signed by MPs and opposition party leaders who want to halt a no-deal departure.

"We face a national emergency, and parliament must be recalled now."

Parliament is set to break up again shortly after it returns, with the main parties holding their annual conferences during the September break.

Main opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants to call a vote of no confidence in Johnson's government after parliament returns.

He hopes to take over as a temporary prime minister, seek an extension to Britain's EU departure date to stop a no-deal Brexit, and then call a general election.

"What we need is a government that is prepared to negotiate with the European Union so we don't have a crash-out on the 31st," Corbyn said Saturday.

"This government clearly doesn't want to do that."

Britain could face food, fuel and medicine shortages and chaos at its ports in a no-deal Brexit, The Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing a leaked government planning document.

There would likely be some form of hard border imposed on the island of Ireland, the document implied.

Rather than worst-case scenarios, the leaked document, compiled this month by the Cabinet Office ministry, spells out the likely ramifications of a no-deal Brexit, the broadsheet claimed.

The document said logjams could affect fuel distribution, while up to 85 percent of trucks using the main ports to continental Europe might not be ready for French customs.

The availability of fresh food would be diminished and prices would go up, the newspaper said.