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Trump claims North Korea summit could be delayed

in ASIA/POLITICS by

After days of touting success in managing to bring the leader of the rogue nuclear regime to the table for negotiations over the end of his nuclear weapons program, now the U.S. President Donald Trump has hinted at the possibility that the planned summit may fall through. The historic summit between the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the U.S. President was scheduled to take place in Singapore on June 12. However, in recent weeks, the diplomatic overture took a turn for the worse after North Korea cancelled planned talks with South Korea and even threatened to cancel the meeting with Trump over Seoul’s military drills with the U.S. North Korea officially criticized the joint war games by U.S. and South Korean forces, throwing the Singapore summit in doubt.

U.S. meanwhile insisted that the summit would lead to unilateral North Korean surrender of its nuclear weapons programme. Trump earlier warned Kim Jong Un that if he refuses to make a deal he could face the same fate as the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, who was toppled and killed after a NATO-backed insurrection. North Korea said that it supports the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” but interprets it as a gradual, phased and mutual disarmament process.

U.S., South Korea hold talks to soothe North Korea tensions

in ASIA/POLITICS by

After North Korea threatened to pull out of the high-level talks between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, which are scheduled to be held on June 12 in Singapore – U.S. and South Korea huddled up to discuss the future course of action. Today, the South Korean President Moon Jae In and Trump reportedly held discussions to ensure that the North Korea-U.S. summit remains on track. South Korea’s presidential office said in a statement that Jae In and Trump spoke over the phone for about 20 minutes, reportedly exchanging their views on North Korea’s recent reactions. The presidential official said, “The two leaders will work closely and unwaveringly for the successful hosting of the North Korea-U.S. summit set on June 12, including the upcoming South Korea-U.S. summit.” On Tuesday, Jae In and Trump are set to meet in Washington – in a meeting that was planned to be a prelude to the historic summit that is scheduled to be held between North Korea and the U.S.North Korea has showed a dramatic change in tone. Putting weeks of Korean diplomacy in jeopardy, North Korea thrashed Seoul, calling it “ignorant and incompetent.”

Merkel defends the increase of military spending in Germany to 2% of GDP

in ECONOMY/EUROPE by

Germany will increase its military spending to 2% of the GDP. Germany will adapt in this way to what Donad Trump has asked for in NATO since he arrived at the White House, despite the fact that the Berlin government continues to describe as “errors” several of the US military decisions, such as the abandonment of the nuclear pact agreement with Iran. Merkel, who did not advance specific deadlines for these increases in defense spending, reassured with these statements certain concerns arising from the German general budgets for 2018.

After the presentation of the budgets of 2018, the Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen did not hide her disappointment and had requested by letter to the heads of Finance of her Government an increase of the budgetary allocation of her department. The Minister of Finance, the Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, seems to have imposed his discretion on military spending and the conservative von der Leyen has acknowledged that, in that case, Germany will have to put an end to the missions abroad that it has carried out in recent years and focus on defense inside the country.

Rouhani calls Trump’s Iran nuclear deal withdrawal “psychological war”

in DEFENCE/MIDLE EAST by

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Tehran has adopted necessary measures to confront new anti-Iran pressures, saying that his US counterpart is launching psychological war and economic pressure on Tehran by announcing withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. “The Iranian nation will be more united and determined than ever. Trump is exerting economic pressure on Iran and launching psychological war, but we won’t let him achieve what he wants,” Rouhani said, addressing nation right after Trump’s announcement of the US decision to pull out of the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Stressing that Trumps decision was a historical experience for Iran, Rouhani noted that the US president has a history of undermining international treaties. “Tonight, it was proved that we were right for decades.

Iran is a country that remains committed to its promises, and the US is a country that has never lived up to its commitments.” He further noted that the JCPOA is not a deal between Iran and the US and the JCPOA has been a multilateral agreement approved by the UN. “The US tonight showed it is not committed to the agreements it signs, as it did on the Paris Climate and other trade agreements.” Rouhani also noted that Iran would remain in the nuclear deal without the US, saying, “From now on, the Iran nuclear deal will be a deal between Iran and five countries. The Group 5+1 has lost one of its parties.” The Iranian president then announced that he has ordered the foreign ministry to start talks with other five parties to the nuclear deal within the coming weeks. “After these talks,” Rouhani said, “If we conclude that we can achieve the results we expected from the deal, the JCPOA will remain in place regardless of the US decision.” Rouhani at the same time said that if Iran’s interests are not guaranteed, “I’ll soon address the nation and share with them the Establishment’s decision.”

North Korea tells U.S. to not think peace talks are weakness

in ASIA/POLITICS by

Ahead of a historic summit between the U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean President Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang has alleged that America’s tough talk is a provocation. Commenting on recent statements made by the U.S., North Korea warned the U.S. not to misread peace overtures as a sign of weakness. Further, the Kim Jong Un-led regime has accused the Trump administration of deliberately provoking Pyongyang with tough talk and a show of military strength. A spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry told the state-run Korean Central News Agency, “It would not be conducive to addressing the issue if the U.S. miscalculates the peace-loving intention of the DPRK (North Korea) as a sign of ‘weakness’ and continues to pursue its pressure and military threats.”

The statement by North Korea comes at a time when there are merely weeks to go before Trump meets Kim Jong Un in a historic meeting. However, despite all the positive news emerging from the Korean peninsula, the North Korean spokesman accused the Trump administration of misleading the public on Sunday.The spokesman alleged that U.S. claims are misleading that Pyongyang is motivated by fear of U.S. military strength and concerns about aggressive economic sanctions put in place because of the North’s nuclear and missile programs. The spokesman added that movement of U.S. military assets into the region and talk of human rights violations also have hurt the process.

France slams Trump for remarks on guns and Paris attacks

in EUROPE/POLITICS by

France has condemn Donald Trump’s comment that armed civilians could have stopped the 2015 armed attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people. In a statement, the French governement declared that Paris is calling for “respect for the memory of the victims” after Donald Trump used the 2015 attacks in Paris to defend the right to carry a weapon. François Hollande,  president at the time of the attacks, strongly denounced Donald Trump’s “shameful” remarks. Furthermore, the National Federation of the victims of attacks and collective accidents (FENVAC) called the French diplomacy to “react”.

Nigeria’s President Buhari will meet Trump in Washington

in AFRICA/POLITICS by

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria will meet Donald Trump in Washington on April 30 to discuss issues including “fighting terrorism” and economic growth, the White House announced Sunday. “President Trump looks forward to discussing ways to enhance our strategic partnership and advance our shared priorities: promoting economic growth and reforms, fighting terrorism and other threats to peace and security, and building on Nigeria’s role as a democratic leader in the region,” the White House said in a statement. Nigeria, West Africa’s largest economy, is among the countries combatting Islamist extremism with help from the United States. The nation is battling an array of security threats across its territory, from Boko Haram jihadists in the northeast to oil militants in the south.

Japan to pitch new trade dialogue to draw Trump back to TPP

in ECONOMY/FAR EAST by

The Japanese government on Friday greeted with cautious optimism the news that U.S. President Donald Trump is willing to explore re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, while stressing that Washington should accept the original terms. “If this means that President Trump is correctly evaluating the significance and effects of the TPP, it’s something we want to welcome,” Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s minister in charge of the TPP, said after a Cabinet meeting. But he added: “The 11 participating countries share the thinking that it would be extremely difficult to take out part of the TPP and renegotiate or change it.

“The U.S. withdrawal from the TPP shortly after Trump’s inauguration last year made Japan the largest of the 11 Pacific Rim economies left in the deal. Those countries signed a new version last month that had been revised to account for the U.S. absence. Finance Minister Taro Aso suggested that Trump’s shift on the pact should be approached with caution. The shift comes amid a developing trade dispute between the United States and China, which did not take part in the TPP.

Japan’s former chief negotiator for talks on North Korea warns that U.S. lacks expertise on Pyongyang

in FAR EAST/POLITICS by

In a striking reversal, U.S. President Donald Trump has asked trade officials to explore the possibility of the United States rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a free trade deal he pulled out of during his first days in office as part of his “America first” agenda. Trump’s request comes as he faces pressure from farm-state Republicans anxious that his protectionist trade policies could spiral into a trade war with China that would hit rural America. It was not immediately clear how committed Trump was to embarking on a new path of potentially thorny negotiations. Trump frequently equivocates on policy when faced with opposition, only to reverse course later. It’s unclear how willing the other 11 countries would be to reopen the agreement and make concessions to lure the United States back.

“If the Trump administration doesn’t pose too many demands, it is likely that the other TPP members will see the value of the bringing the U.S. back into the fold,” said Eswar Prasad, Cornell University professor of trade policy. “Undoubtedly, a TPP that includes the U.S. would be stronger and more formidable than one that does not.” Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been renewing their pitches for TPP — rather than Trump’s threats of steep tariffs on steel and other products — as a way to counter China on trade. Sen. Ron Johnson was among a handful of senators who recently visited China to meet with government and business leaders there. He said it’s time to work with a coalition of trading partners to increase pressure on China.

Japan: the US Ambassador and his wife meet abductees’ family members

in ASIA by

The U.S. Ambassador to Japan on Tuesday met the families of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea agents decades ago to train its spies, just a week before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to raise the emotional issue at a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. In an apparent nod to Japan’s concerns, U.S. Ambassador William Hagerty and his wife met abductees’ family members, including Sakie Yokota, whose daughter Megumi was snatched from a beach as a teenager 40 years ago. Hagerty told them their plight had not been forgotten, pledging to convey their stories to Trump ahead of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “I know that this issue is high on the list of priorities for both President Trump and Prime Minister Abe,” he told reporters. 

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