Kim Jong Un says he’s open to another summit with Trump

In this April 10, 2019, file photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the 4th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang. (AP)
Updated 13 April 2019
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Kim Jong Un says he’s open to another summit with Trump

  • Some experts say it’s becoming clear the North intends to turn the talks with the United States into a bilateral arms reduction negotiation between two nuclear states

PYONGYANG, North Korea: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he is open to a third summit with President Donald Trump, but set the year’s end as a deadline for Washington to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement to salvage the high-stakes nuclear diplomacy, the state-run media said Saturday.
Kim made the comments during a speech Friday at a session of the North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament, which made a slew of personnel changes that bolstered his diplomatic lineup amid stalemated negotiations with the United States. His speech came hours after Trump and visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in Washington and agreed on the importance of nuclear talks with North Korea.
“We of course place importance on resolving problems through dialogue and negotiations. But US-style dialogue of unilaterally pushing its demands doesn’t fit us, and we have no interest in it,” Kim said during the speech.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, he blamed the collapse of his summit with Trump in February on what he described as unilateral demands by the United States, which he said raised questions over whether Washington has genuine willingness to improve relations. But Kim said his personal relationship with the American president remains good and that they could exchange letters at “any time.”
Kim repeated earlier claims that North Korea’s crippled economy would persevere through heavy international sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons program and that he wouldn’t “obsess over summitry with the United States out of thirst for sanctions relief.”
The United States has said the summit in Vietnam broke down because of the North’s excessive demands for sanctions relief in return for limited disarmament measures. In their first summit last June in Singapore, Trump and Kim issued a vague statement calling for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.
Kim said the United States has been refusing to withdraw what the North perceives as “hostile policies” while sticking to “mistaken judgment that we would succumb to maximum pressure.” He said the North would not compromise on the “fundamental interests of our country and people, even by a speck,” and blamed the United States for arriving in Hanoi with “completely unrealizable plans.”
“If the United States approaches us with the right manner and offers to hold a third North Korea-US leaders’ summit on the condition of finding solutions we could mutually accept, then we do have a willingness to give it one more try,” he added. “We will wait with patience until the end of the year for the United States to come up with a courageous decision. But it will clearly be difficult for a good opportunity like last time to come up.”
Kim also during the speech made a nationalistic call for South Korea to support the North’s positions more strongly and criticized Seoul for acting like an “overstepping mediator” between Washington and Pyongyang. Kim held three summits last year with Moon, who lobbied hard to revive the nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea. Following collapse of the Trump-Kim summit, the North had been urging the South to break away from Washington and proceed with inter-Korean economic projects that are currently held back by US-led sanctions against the North.
“The South should not act as an ‘overstepping mediator’ or a ‘facilitator’ and should rather get its mind straight as a member of the (Korean) nation and boldly speak up for the interest of the nation,” Kim said.
When asked about Kim’s comments, South Korea’s presidential office said Seoul is committed toward keeping the atmosphere of dialogue alive and helping negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang resume at an early date.
On Friday, the KCNA reported that Kim was reelected as chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the nation’s most important decision-making body, during a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly that praised his “outstanding ideological and theoretical wisdom and experienced and seasoned leadership.”
Experts say the new appointments may be a sign of Kim’s desire to keep recent months of up-and-down nuclear diplomacy alive rather than returning to the threats and weapons tests that characterized 2017, when many feared war on the Korean Peninsula.
But the lack of substantial disarmament commitments from the North and the deepening impasse in nuclear negotiations have fueled doubts on whether Kim would ever voluntarily relinquish an arsenal he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival.
Some experts say it’s becoming clear the North intends to turn the talks with the United States into a bilateral arms reduction negotiation between two nuclear states, rather than a unilateral process of surrendering its arsenal.
Kim has signed vague statements calling for the “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula in his meetings with Trump and Moon. But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of denuclearization that bears no resemblance to the American definition, with Pyongyang vowing to pursue nuclear development until the United States removes its troops and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.


Protesters clash with Indonesian police after election loss

Police detain protesters after clashes in Jakarta, Indonesia, early May 22, 2019 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. (Reuters)
Updated 5 min ago
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Protesters clash with Indonesian police after election loss

JAKARTA, Indonesia: Supporters of an unsuccessful presidential candidate clashed with security forces and set fire to a police dormitory and vehicles in the Indonesian capital on Wednesday after the release of official election results.
The situation turned violent late Tuesday when protesters tried to force their way into the offices of the election supervisory agency and clashes continued through the night, National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said. More than 20 suspected provocateurs were arrested, he said Wednesday.
KompasTV showed protesters throwing rocks, a paramilitary police dormitory on fire, and hundreds of riot police in a central neighborhood.
Indonesia’s Election Commission on Tuesday said President Joko Widodo had won a second term with 55.5% of the vote in the April 17 election.
Former special forces general Prabowo Subianto has refused to accept the results and declared himself the winner. His campaign plans to challenge the election in the Constitutional Court. They allege massive fraud but have provided no credible evidence.
Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said police used tear gas and water cannon against protesters who threw rocks, molotov cocktails and burning projectiles.
The government had deployed some 50,000 police and soldiers in Jakarta in anticipation of protests, said Yuwono. Many residents have left the city and parts of the downtown are closed to traffic with the election supervisory agency and election commission barricaded with razor wire.
In the past week, authorities have arrested three pro-Subianto activists on suspicion of treason, said Prasetyo, including a retired general and former commander of Indonesia’s special forces. Police allege there was a plot to seize crucial government buildings in Jakarta.