North Korea slams 'gangster-like' U.S. demands after satisfied Pompeo leaves

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korea accused the United States on Saturday of making “gangster-like” demands in talks over its nuclear program, contradicting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hours after he left saying the old enemies had made progress on key issues.

During a day and a half of talks in Pyongyang, Pompeo had sought to hammer out details on how to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programs, including a timeline.

As he departed, he said he had made progress on “almost all of the central issues,” although work remained to be done.

Hours later, Pyongyang gave a much more negative assessment, saying Washington had broken the spirit of last month’s summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

He said Pompeo’s delegation insisted on unilateral complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, known as CVID. He argued instead for both sides to take a series of simultaneous steps as a “shortcut” to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

“The high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.”

There was no immediate comment on the KCNA statement from the State Department or the White House. The contrasting comments raised questions over whether North Korea is committed to abandoning the nuclear programs it has developed for decades and has seen as key to its survival.

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‘LIKE A ROBBER’

Trump and Kim pledged at their June 12 summit meeting in Singapore to move toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Trump has declared on Twitter that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.

But Kim has yet to provide details of how or when North Korea might dismantle a weapons program that Trump has vowed will not be allowed to threaten the United States. Also, leaked U.S. intelligence findings concluded North Korea does not intend to completely give up its nuclear program.

On Saturday, Pompeo said he spent “a good deal of time” in the latest talks discussing a denuclearization timeline and the declaration of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities.

“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done,” he said, according to a pool report from U.S. reporters who accompanied him to Pyongyang.

“The North Koreans are in the game to get, not to give,” said Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia until last year.

“They have gotten the U.S. to back off military exercises, back off using ‘CVID’, back off the ‘Libya model’ of rapid denuclearization, back off on human rights, and to look the other way while China relaxes sanctions implementation. So why wouldn’t Kim Jong Un dig in his heels with Pompeo and press his advantage?”

Abraham Denmark, a senior defense official for East Asia under former President Barack Obama, said: “This is a rejection of U.S. demands for unilateral denuclearization by North Korea, and a clear message that the U.S. will need to give up more to make progress.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo had been “very firm” on three basic goals: complete denuclearization of North Korea, security assurances and repatriation of remains of Americans killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Pompeo said the two sides agreed to hold discussions on July 12 on repatriation, and also discussed “modalities” for destruction of a missile engine testing facility.

KCNA said the North also offered to discuss declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War marking next month’s anniversary of the armistice agreement, but the U.S. side showed little interest, giving “certain conditions and excuses.”

Nauert said the July 12 meeting, along the border between North and South Korea, would be at working level and involve U.S. Defense Department officials.

Pompeo did not meet Kim as he had done on two previous visits to North Korea this year, but handed over a letter to him from Trump.

A letter from Kim to Trump was also delivered to Pompeo through Kim Yong Chol, a top North Korean party official and former spy agency chief, who was Pompeo’s interlocutor and played a key role in arranging the Singapore summit.

In the letter, Kim Jong Un expressed his “expectation and conviction” that future dialogue would further consolidate the sentiments of good faith between the two leaders, KCNA said.

“We still cherish our good faith in President Trump,” the spokesman said.

‘EQUALLY COMMITTED’

Asked about reports based on U.S. intelligence assessments that North Korea had continued to develop its nuclear facilities even while engaging in dialogue, Pompeo said:

“We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it’s the case that we can get our arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

“Chairman Kim is ... still committed” to that goal, Pompeo said, and he reiterated that Trump was “committed to a brighter future for North Korea”.

The U.S.-North Korea talks are being closely watched across Asia. Pompeo is due to meet in Tokyo on Sunday with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Some U.S. experts on North Korea said the ongoing disputes show the risk of Washington granting premature concessions to Pyongyang. Many were surprised when Trump agreed at the summit in Singapore to end joint military exercises with South Korea.

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United States: Monument to Shame

Peter Fonda is another of the North American artists who rejects the migratory politics carried out by the commanding leader of the United States.

The son of the famous actor Henry Fonda and the brother of the actress Jane Fonda has spoken in several tweets against such behavior.

Thus informed this week the TMZ website.

In one of the tweets, already erased, Fonda wrote: We should separate Barron Trump of Melania and to put him in a cage with pedophiles."

After making a pass on Melania, he did the same with the secretary of the National Security Department, Kristjen Nielsen, saying: She should be put in a cage, ridiculed in Lafayette Square, naked and whipped by pedestrians while filmed for posterity."

The text was equally deleted.

Peter Fonda is one more in the legion of North American artists opposed to the "zero tolerance” politics.

On the other hand, the Europe Press agency in these days revealed that even Melania contradicts, in everyone’s view, the politics of separating immigrant children from their parents.

The First Lady’s spokesman, Stephanie Grisham, in declarations to the press pointed out:

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and expects that both parts can unite to achieve a successful immigration reformation."

And she added: "She believes we should be a country that abides all laws, but also a country that is governed with the heart."

On the topic, the political website The Hill asserted that Melania Trump’s position contradicts the current migratory politics that separates children from their parents.

At times of the recently announced "zero tolerance" by the Government, where adults who attempt to cross illegally the south border of the United States are sanctioned with jail time.

As it’s known, such a politics has been very criticized by democrats and activists of immigrants’ rights.

The digital website added that the North American Academy of Pediatrics criticized this new approach recently because it could cause an "permanent damage” to the children.

Still developing one of the saddest and shameful episodes in the history of the United States.

Cubasí Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

US Judge Orders List Of Children Separated From Migrant Parents

Los Angeles: A California judge on Friday gave the US government until the following night to submit a list of children under five separated from their families at the border, a government official said.

US President Donald Trump's administration had asked the court to extend a deadline to reunite some detained children with their migrant parents, arguing it needed more time to perform necessary checks and confirm identities.

Judge Dana Sabraw had issued an injunction on June 26 requiring the government to reunite detained migrant children under the age of five within 14 days and those over that age within 30 days.

More than 2,300 children, around 100 of them under the age of five, were separated from their families as a consequence of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that saw their parents prosecuted for illegally crossing the border, even if they did so to seek asylum.

Several hundred have already been reunited with their parents, but the government has struggled to keep up, and it admitted Thursday to using DNA tests to determine parentage.

us detention facility rio grande reutersThe separation of children as young as 3 from their parents led to protests and public outcry. 

In total, about 11,800 migrant children are currently detained by US authorities after having crossed the border illegally, but 80 percent of them are teenagers who arrived alone, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar has said.

"The judge made it very clear he wasn't going to allow the Trump administration to drag its feet on reunifying these children with their parents," Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, said of the Friday ruling.

Back to court

The ACLU brought the case that led to Sabraw's injunction on behalf of migrant parents.

But according to a government official, the judge did not formally rule out extending the period, and another hearing will be held on Monday.

In a filing submitted Thursday, the US Department of Justice said HHS was using DNA swab testing to determine parentage.

But it said that even though the department "is moving expeditiously to undertake these DNA tests, that process takes meaningful time, even when it is expedited."

It added that given the possibility of false claims, "confirming parentage is critical to ensure that children are returned to their parents, not to potential traffickers," and that the government also needed to determine whether the adults had a criminal history or could present a danger to their children.

The government did not request a specific new set of deadlines, but instead sought to "prepare a proposal for an alternative timeline."

It also sought relief from a paragraph in the original injunction that prohibits the government from detaining adult migrants without their children, arguing it could be read to require the release of such detainees if they had not been reunified within the time frame set by the court.

President Donald Trump, who has made fighting illegal and legal immigration a central plank of his US-centered policy agenda, reversed his government's "zero tolerance" policy on June 20 following public outcry.

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With Fresh Tariffs On China, Donald Trump Unleashes Trade War

Washington: Punishing US tariffs on Chinese imports took effect early Friday, marking the start of President Donald Trump's trade war with the largest US trading partner and intensifying the anxieties of global industry.

Beijing was expected to immediately retaliate dollar-for-dollar with its own counter-tariffs after Trump imposed 25 percent duties on about $34 billion in Chinese machinery, electronics and high-tech equipment including autos, computer hard drives and LEDs.

The arrival of the long-threatened tariffs marked the failure of months of dialogue between the world's two largest economies and came amid hand-wringing from industry leaders who fear shrinking markets, higher prices and slower growth.

The tariffs' arrival also made real a campaign-trail pledge for Trump, who has fulminated for years against what he describes as Beijing's underhanded economic treatment of the United States.

US officials accuse China of building that country's emerging industrial dominance by stealing the "crown jewels" of American technological know-how through cyber-theft, forced transfers of intellectual property, state-sponsored corporate acquisitions and other alleged practices.

And they say the current US economic strength, as well as America's soaring trade deficit in goods, means the world's largest economy can outlast its rivals in the current tit-for-tat battle, presenting Washington with a rare window of opportunity to settle old scores.

The US trade deficit in goods with China ballooned to a record $375.2 billion last year, further stoking Trump's ire.

But it remained to be seen whether the American president would carry out recent threats to respond to any Chinese retaliation with maximum pressure -- raising US duties on Chinese goods in increments of $200 billion until virtually all the goods America buys from its largest trading partner are subject to duties.

But, aboard Air Force One on Thursday en route to Montana, Trump erased any hope of an about-face. He said Washington stood ready to slap duties on hundreds of billions more in Chinese imports once Friday's tariffs took effect.


Red states feel the pinch

As the tariffs' start approached at midnight, the US central bank warned Thursday the impending trade battle was beginning to darken the otherwise blue skies of the robust American economy, now starting its 10th year of recovery.

Businesses around the United States told the central bank that spending plans had been scaled back or postponed and they also warned of further adverse effects from the trade conflict, according to a Federal Reserve survey.

An industrial survey confirmed that companies were white-knuckling their way through Trump's intensifying, multi-front trade assault.

"We're starting to see signs of inflation, not sharp inflation, but definitely inflation," Anthony Nieves, head of a services industry survey committee for the Institute for Supply Management, told reporters on Thursday.

The start of the trade war likely confirms the widening rupture between Trump and his own Republican Party, a traditional champion of free trade and big business whose members, while critical, have so-far shrunk from curtailing the White House's trade powers.

But, with the GOP facing strong political headwinds ahead of November's mid-term elections, China's countermeasures left both Trump and Republican lawmakers increasingly vulnerable to voters who appear likely to boost the fortunes of opposition Democrats.

The powerful US Chamber of Commerce, a principal corporate lobby, said this week that retaliation from China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and others against Trump's tariffs was already affecting $75 billion in US exports -- much of this from states that had narrowly supported Trump in 2016's presidential elections.

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Iran threatens to cut cooperation with nuclear body after Trump move

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran could reduce its co-operation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, President Hassan Rouhani told the body’s head on Wednesday, after he warned U.S. President Donald Trump of “consequences” of fresh sanctions against Iranian oil sales.

In May, Trump pulled out of a multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear program, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face financial measures.

“Iran’s nuclear activities have always been for peaceful purposes, but it is Iran that would decide on its level of cooperation with the IAEA,” Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying after meeting IAEA head Yukiya Amano in Vienna.

“The responsibility for the change of Iran’s cooperation level with the IAEA falls on those who have created this new situation,” he added.

Rouhani said earlier in the day Tehran would stand firm against U.S. threats to cut Iranian oil sales.

“The Americans say they want to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero ... It shows they have not thought about its consequences,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by IRNA.

On Tuesday, Rouhani hinted at a threat to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries if Washington tries to cut its exports.

He did not elaborate, but an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander explicitly said on Wednesday Iran would block any exports of crude for the Gulf in retaliation for hostile U.S. action.

“If they want to stop Iranian oil exports, we will not allow any oil shipment to pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” Ismail Kowsari was quoted as saying by the Young Journalists Club (YJC) website.

Major-General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds force, in charge of foreign operations for the Revolutionary Guards, said in a letter published on IRNA: “I kiss your (Rouhani’s) hand for expressing such wise and timely comments, and I am at your service to implement any policy that serves the Islamic Republic.”

“SELF HARM”

Rouhani, in Vienna trying to salvage the nuclear deal, said U.S. sanctions were a “crime and aggression”, and called on European and other governments to stand up to Trump.

“Iran will survive this round of U.S. sanctions as it has survived them before. This U.S. government will not stay in office forever ... But history will judge other nations based on what they do today,” he said.

Rouhani told reporters that if the remaining signatories - the Europeans Britain, France and Germany as well as China and Russia - can guarantee Iran’s benefits: “Iran will remain in the nuclear deal without the United States.”

Iran’s OPEC governor, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, said on the Iranian oil ministry news agency SHANA:

“Trump’s demand that Iranian oil should not be bought, and (his) pressures on European firms at a time when Nigeria and Libya are in crisis, when Venezuela’s oil exports have fallen due to U.S. sanctions, when Saudi’s domestic consumption has increased in summer, is nothing but self harm.

“It will increase the prices of oil in the global markets,” he said. “At the end it is the American consumer who will pay the price for Mr. Trump’s policy.”

The European Union, once Iran’s biggest oil importer, has vowed to keep the 2015 deal alive without the United States by trying to keep Iran’s oil and investment flowing. But European officials acknowledge that U.S. sanctions make it difficult to give Tehran guarantees.

Foreign ministers from the five remaining signatories will meet Iranian officials in Vienna on Friday to discuss how to keep the accord alive.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; additional reporting Francois Murphy and Kirsti Knolle in Vienna; Editing by Toby Chopra and Robin Pomeroy.

  • Published in World

Trump the peacekeeper? US leader brags that America would be ‘in war’ with N. Korea 'if not for him

US President Donald Trump has once again baffled the international community, as he claimed that it was him who actually saved the world from a potentially devastating conflict between Washington and Pyongyang.

“If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!” Trump said in a Twitter post on Tuesday as he rejoiced the “many good conversations with North Korea,” which he said are “going well.” He then apparently also took the credit for the absence of any North Korean missile launches and nuclear tests over the last eight months.

Pyongyang indeed ceased its nuclear and missile activities for quite some time, although it remains doubtful whether it was actually a result of the US “maximum pressure” policy, which was so adamantly championed by Trump not so long ago. When the situation around the Korean Peninsula heated up following the North’s nuclear and missile tests in early September 2017, the US leader actually opted for open confrontation, albeit only verbally, rather than for diplomatic efforts.

In October 2017, he actually declared all talks with Pyongyang were pointless, as he said that “only one thing will work,” while lambasting the then-US State Secretary Rex Tillerson for “wasting his time trying to negotiate with the Little Rocket Man” – a derogatory nickname Trump coined for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

 
© KCNA

The US leader then repeatedly said that “talking is not the answer” to the Korean crisis, adding that “talk of appeasement” will not “work” with North Korea, and he even resorted to open threats of war. Speaking at the annual General Debate of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly back in September 2017, Trump famously said that the US “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” if forced to defend itself and its allies. He also warned that Washington would not hesitate to use its “nuclear capabilities” to defend itself and its allies.

Russia has repeatedly warned the US against taking military action against North Korea, advocating for a diplomatic approach instead. Russia’s Foreign Ministry particularly called on the US and its major ally in the region, South Korea, to take “adequate steps” and reduce their military activity in the region to avoid further escalation. While supporting a number of UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea, Moscow cautioned that the US-led drills are “provoking” Kim Jong-un into striving for new weapons.

In September 2017, Moscow and Beijing put forward a ‘double freeze’ plan calling for a simultaneous halt to North Korea’s tests and the US’ war games in the region. However, Washington ignored these calls and continued its maximum pressure and a bellicose line at that time.

Even when Pyongyang engaged in the first direct negotiations with Seoul over two years in early 2018, Trump was still full of skepticism and ready to resort to a military option. “I am not sure that talks will lead to anything meaningful,” he said at that time, adding that it was “very possible” that the standoff with North Korea might not be resolved peacefully.

 
FILE PHOTO. @ Reuters

At some points, the US president was so carried away by his war of words with the North Korean leader that it resulted in some blunders. On one such occasion, Trump famously bragged that his nuclear button was “much bigger and more powerful” than Kim Jong-un's.

North Korea also initially did not hesitate to issue belligerent statements, as it also threatened to “annihilate” the US and turn it into “ashes,” as well as to “sink” Japan and “wipe out” South Korea. However, it was Pyongyang that eventually decided to halt its nuclear and missile tests while Kim Jong-un sent a personal invitation to Trump to discuss the possible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

It was only after the negotiations between two Koreas turned out to be largely successful and they were actually followed by the first meeting between the North and South Korean leaders since 2007, that Trump suddenly changed his rhetoric. He jumped from mocking the North Korean leader to calling him “very honorable.”

This trend continued after the historic meeting between the US and North Korean leaders in Singapore. Following the talks, Trump declared that there was “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea,” and actually praised Kim’s leadership and said that they had a “very good relationship,” as well as “good chemistry.”

Still, the US president also claimed back in April that it was his “maximum pressure” approach that actually worked. In fact, though, it seems that it was actually the “double freeze” plan, advocated by Russia and China from the very beginning of the recent Korean crisis, that the US and North Korean leaders followed to at least start to resolve their differences.

  • Published in World

U.S. Policy Prevents National Ballet of Cuba's Performance

Havana, Jul 3 (Prensa Latina) The National Ballet of Cuba (BNC) today clarified through a statement the facts about its frustrated performance in the United States with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The Cuban company notified that the function conceived for next August with the symphony orchestra failed to consolidate due to the complex and expensive procedures to obtain the visas that could not be assumed by the Philharmonic.

'This situation was widely evaluated by both parties since last April of this year,' the text adds.

The clarification by the BNC is due to information circulated in several U.S. media about the refusal of visas to the group by the U.S. Department of State to act in that country.

The complex situation is the result of the visa policy established by U.S. President Donald Trump, which states that Cubans interested in traveling to the United States must process visas in a third country.

Despite these limitations, the prestigious group led by prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso has made several tours of American cities with great acceptance by the public and specialized critics.

  • Published in Culture

Donald Trump Threatens Action On World Trade Organization

Washington: U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to take action against the World Trade Organization on Monday after media reports said he wanted to withdraw from the global trade regulator.

Trump has complained frequently that the United States is treated unfairly in global trade and has sharply criticized the WTO for letting that happen.

"WTO has treated the United States very badly and I hope they change their ways. They have been treating us very badly for many, many years and that's why we were at a big disadvantage with the WTO," Trump told reporters at the White House.

"And we're not planning anything now, but if they don't treat us properly we will be doing something," he said.

News website Axios last week reported that the Republican president wants to withdraw from the WTO, drawing a prompt denial on Friday from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Axios reported on Sunday that Trump, who has made fighting unfair trade rules a pillar of his presidency, has ordered that legislation be written stipulating a WTO withdrawal.

But Trump's commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said earlier on Monday it was too soon for the United States to discuss any withdrawal from the World Trade Organization.

"WTO knows some reforms are needed. I think there really is a need to update and synchronize its activities, and we'll see where that leads," Ross told CNBC. "But I think it's a little premature to talk about simply withdrawing from it.

"We've made no secret of our view that there are some reforms needed at the WTO," Ross said.

Trump's aggressive stance on trade has roiled U.S. relations with allies and trading partners from Europe to China. He pulled out of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership shortly after taking office last year and began renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with neighbours Canada and Mexico.

More recently, he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imported into the United States from various countries and is set to impose tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports beginning on Friday.

  • Published in World
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