Putin, Macron: N. Korea threatening peace & safety, direct talks needed

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have agreed on the importance of defusing the Korean peninsula stand-off through diplomacy, urging all parties to engage in direct talks.

 
FILE PHOTO © KCNA

The two leaders compared opinions on the Korean Peninsula crisis during telephone talks on Friday.

They are unanimous that further escalation on the Korean Peninsula cannot be allowed and that its consequences could be irremediable. They “agreed on the importance of untangling this extremely complicated issue solely through political and diplomatic means, through resuming direct talks,” the Kremlin’s press service said.

The two leaders condemned North Korea’s “provocative actions,” which blatantly violate the disarmament resolutions of the UN Security Council.

UN Security Council Resolution 2375, adopted on September 11, was an “adequate response of the international community to Pyongyang’s reckless actions,” both Putin and Macron stressed.

The Resolution tightened sanctions against North Korea following Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, conducted earlier this month.

The new sanctions put a cap of 2 million barrels a year on sales of refined petroleum products to North Korea, crude oil export levels are capped at the average for the past 12 months, and the country’s textile exports are banned.

North Korea, however, has responded to the sanctions with aggressive rhetoric and a new ballistic missile test. The projectile flew over Japan and crashed into the Pacific Ocean some 2,000 km east of the island of Hokkaido.

 
FILE PHOTO  TV screen showing news about North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan © Kim Kyung-Hoon

Following the new test, South Korea threatened to destroy the North “beyond recovery,” if it continues its “provocations,” according to President Moon Jae-in, who warned, however, of the new threats Pyongyang might pose.

“President Moon ordered officials to closely analyze and prepare for new possible North Korean threats like EMP [electro-magnetic pulse] and biochemical attacks,” presidential spokesperson Park Su-hyun told reporters.

The new test has elicited a stern reaction from the international community. UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the test, promising to discuss it with the UN General Assembly next week.

“The Secretary-General calls on the DPRK leadership to cease further testing, comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions, and allow space to explore the resumption of sincere dialogue on denuclearisation,” Guterres’ spokesperson said in a statement on Friday. 

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was “outraged” by the new test, but said pressure must be put on China so that in turn it pressures Pyongyang.

“The prime minister is outraged by North Korea's continued reckless provocation and she strongly condemns the regime's illegal tests,” Reuters cited May’s spokesman as saying.

Our key focus now is continuing to press China to keep up the pressure on North Korea to change course.”

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Trump: Russia probe is greatest witch hunt of a politician in US history

US President Donald Trump says he is the victim of the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history,” in an apparent reference to the investigation regarding the president’s alleged ties with Russia.

@realDonaldTrump This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!

He went on to speak about “illegal acts” that took place during Hillary Clinton’s campaign and throughout the Obama administration, noting that there was “never a special councel (sic) appointed.”

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller. © Jonathan Ernst

It comes just one day after the US Justice Department named former FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged Russian interference in the US election and possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

Trump’s tweets follow similar words from the president on Wednesday, in which he said that no politician “has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers during the investigation, according to AP.

Trump reiterated his innocence on Wednesday, saying in a statement that a “thorough investigation will confirm what we already know – there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.”

Trump is also facing allegations that he leaked highly classified information to Russian officials during a meeting in the US capital last week.

That claim has been denied by both Washington and Moscow, with Russian President Vladimir Putin offering on Wednesday to release the records of the meeting, while accusing the US of developing “political schizophrenia.”

@RT_America 'No evidence Russia influencing voter tallies in...50 states' - US ex-intel chief http://on.rt.com/8b32 

Earlier this week, the Washington Post published a report claiming that Trump had “revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister [Sergey Lavrov] and ambassador in a White House meeting,” allegedly related to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

While Trump has said the “facts” discussed included terrorism and airline flight safety, which he had an “absolute right” to discuss with Russia, Lavrov on Thursday was also asked to comment on the matter.

We do not comment on gossip, but we do read [US] newspapers,” Lavrov told the media in Cyprus. “If I remember rightly, around a month-and-a-half or two months ago, the Trump administration decided to ban passengers from seven Middle Eastern countries from carrying any electronic devices on board... I don't understand where the secret is.

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Putin Briefs Saudi King on Al-Assad Meeting

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin briefed on Wednesday the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud about the outcome of his meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who made a lightning visit to Moscow.

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Putin: All countries should respect Ukraine’s sovereignty

The sovereignty of all states, including Ukraine, should be respected, Russian President Vladimir Putin told CBS’s ‘60 Minutes,’ stressing that he knows “for sure” that the US was involved in the ouster of President Yanukovich in 2014.
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Russia, Egypt Favor Joint Anti-Terrorist Front

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi on Wednesday that Russia and Egypt are in favor of creating an anti-terrorist front that would include Syria.

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