North Korea: Time running out for fresh US talks on denuclearization

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reads a letter from US President Donald Trump in Pyongyang in this picture released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on June 22, 2019. (KCNA via Reuters)
Updated 27 June 2019

North Korea: Time running out for fresh US talks on denuclearization

  • The United States is in behind-the-scenes talks with North Korea over a possible third summit
  • Pyongyang says the recent US extension of sanctions against North Korea was an act of hostility

SEOUL: The United States should take action to present a new strategy to revive denuclearization talks, a North Korean diplomat in charge of US affairs said on Thursday, warning time was running out ahead of a year-end deadline set by Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said after the collapse of his second summit with US President Donald Trump in February that a third meeting would be possible only if Washington adopted a more flexible approach. Kim said he will wait until the end of the year.
The United States is in behind-the-scenes talks with North Korea over a possible third summit and has proposed reviving working-level negotiations, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.
Trump said on Wednesday he would not meet with the North Korean leader during his trip to Asia for the G20 summit in Japan this week, which will include a visit to South Korea.
Kwon Jong Gun, director for US affairs at the North’s foreign ministry, said the United States had recently spoke of dialogue while “contemptibly committing hostile acts.”
He did not elaborate, but a foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that the recent US extension of sanctions against North Korea was an act of hostility and an outright challenge to the first summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore last year.
“Dialogue doesn’t happen by itself when the United States doesn’t act to come up with a realistic approach that serves the interests of both sides and speaks of a restart of talks like a parrot,” Kwon said in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency.
“The United States doesn’t have much time left if it were to move to produce results.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that a recent exchange of letters between Trump and Kim boosted hopes for a restart of talks, calling it a “very real possibility.”


Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

Updated 29 min 39 sec ago

Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

  • The case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

STOCKHOLM: Sweden on Tuesday dropped its investigation into an alleged rape by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in Britain.
Assange, who is battling extradition to the United States which accuses him of publishing secret documents related to his WikiLeaks work, has been facing potential charges in Sweden since 2010. The 48-year-old has denied all allegations against him.
Prosecutor Eve-Marie Persson said the case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”
She said the alleged victim, who accused Assange of raping her in 2010, “submitted a credible and reliable version of events.”
“Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed,” Persson said. 
The decision follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained. Two months earlier, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now move onto the “threat” that Assange has been “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
Assange has been battling potential charges in Sweden since August 2010, when an investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a visit to Stockholm. Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest. That was granted two months later.
After that, the investigation stalled. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation.
While denying the sexual misconduct allegations in Sweden, he sought asylum for protection from possible extradition to the US on charges.
Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status in April 2019. Assange was arrested by British police and sentenced in May to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012. He remains in prison after authorities ruled he was a flight risk and faces an extradition hearing next year to the US to face spying charges