north korea

FILE PHOTO: G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are seen before a family photo during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo

March 21, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may meet President Donald Trump in the United States in late April for talks on North Korea and Japan-U.S. trade, two government officials and Japanese media said on Thursday.

The meeting was requested by the Japanese side and arrangements were being made for the end of April, the Asahi Shimbun daily said, without giving a specific date.

Two government officials familiar with the matter told Reuters that planning for Abe’s visit was underway.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said an overseas trip by Abe had not been decided.

The talks would likely focus on North Korea after Trump’s failed meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in February, against a backdrop of Tokyo’s concern that is being sidelined in those negotiations, the Asahi Shimbun said.

Japan’s cabinet is expected to vote next month on extending unilateral sanctions against North Korea by two years, public broadcaster NHK said on Wednesday.

Japan-U.S. trade is also expected to be on the agenda.

Trump has prodded Japanese automakers to add more jobs in the United States as the White House has threatened to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported vehicles, on the grounds of national security.

Japanese officials have repeatedly said that Abe and Trump agreed last year that Washington would not impose auto tariffs as long as bilateral trade talks are going on.

The Asahi Shimbun said discussions are also being held on a separate meeting in April between Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

(Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; writing by Elaine Lies; editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi
FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sit down for a dinner during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

March 20, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will extend unilateral sanctions against North Korea by two years, public broadcaster NHK said on Wednesday.

Japan will extend a trade embargo on North Korea and a ban on North Korean ships entering Japanese ports by two years, according to the report.

The government is expected to approve the extension at a cabinet meeting early next month, NHK said.

The decision would come after a second meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month collapsed over differences on U.S. demands for Pyongyang’s denuclearisation and North Korea’s demand for sanctions relief.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)

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FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wave during a car parade in Pyongyang
FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wave during a car parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 18, 2018. Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

March 20, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – The breakdown at last month’s U.S.-North Korea summit has left South Korean President Moon Jae-in with little room to maneuver and exacerbated divisions within his government over how to break the impasse, three sources familiar with the issue said.

The weeks since the Hanoi summit have revealed how difficult it may now be for Moon to play his desired role as a mediator, as Pyongyang and Washington have hardened their stances, threatening to make his focus on engagement seem implausible.

Some U.S. officials were frustrated when Moon, during a call with President Donald Trump just a week before the summit, offered to “ease the burden” by reopening inter-Korean economic projects as a concession to the North, two sources with knowledge of the matter said.

At the time, negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program were “hardly making progress,” one source said.

That offer also landed with a thud among some of Moon’s own administration, who said it made him appear desperate for North Korean sanctions relief.

“You don’t want to look desperate, especially when their talks are going nowhere and time is ticking,” said the source, who like the others spoke on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

Moon is eager to restart the joint projects, key to an initiative that he sees as a boost for a moribund economy and the worst job market in a decade.

WEEKS OF CONTROVERSY

Moon’s approval ratings have fallen to their lowest levels since taking office in May 2017, pollster Realmeter said on Monday, citing recent missile activity in North Korea and the stalemate in nuclear talks.

Since the summit, work at North Korea’s Sohae rocket test facility has been detected, while a senior Pyongyang official said last week that Kim may suspend talks with the United States and rethink its freeze on weapons tests.

Senior North Korean negotiators have not showed up for weekly talks with the South at their liaison office since the summit broke down, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. But there were “no problems” communicating with the North, a ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a recent U.S. State Department human rights paper criticized Seoul for pressuring North Korean defectors not to denounce Pyongyang. A separate U.N. report noted Seoul’s failure to declare its transfer of petroleum products used in the North, and published a photo of Moon and Kim riding in an “illicitly obtained” limousine in Pyongyang.

This week, the debate over whether Moon is too committed to engagement with North Korea boiled over in a controversy about a Bloomberg news report that called him a “top spokesman” for Kim Jong Un last year.

Moon’s office faced criticism from foreign media associations after ruling party officials used the racially charged term “black-haired foreigner” to personally single out the author of the Bloomberg story – who is South Korean – for being “almost treasonous.”

After days of pressure, the party apologized on Tuesday for using “black-haired foreigner,” while Moon’s office said it would take action if the reporter were “under real threat.”

CHANGING ROLES

Moon has vowed to act as a mediator between Trump and Kim, but that plan is in doubt in the wake of the summit’s collapse.

There was criticism in Washington that Seoul might have over-sold Kim’s denuclearisation commitment and gone too far in pushing for sanctions relief, according to another source who recently met with U.S. officials and academics.

On the other side, North Korea’s vice foreign minister told a news conference in Pyongyang last week that South Korea is only “a player, not an arbiter” because it is a U.S. ally, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. officials have said no sanctions will be lifted in exchange for partial steps toward denuclearisation, rejecting the incremental approach Pyongyang has sought.

But a senior aide to Moon on Sunday called for a small, step-by-step deal as a “realistic alternative” that would at least move toward dismantling the North’s nuclear facilities in return for sanctions relief.

“We need to reconsider the all-or-nothing strategy,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

A U.S. State Department representative said that the United States remains prepared for a “constructive negotiation” but that North Korea was not yet ready.

The three sources say U.S. officials still think Moon’s administration can play a role in resuming talks the North, but they want it to focus more on pushing North Korea to denuclearise rather than advocating for sanctions relief.

“They do think South Korea could be a catalyst that helps the negotiations go in the right direction, but in a way that brings Kim’s commitments that deserve U.S. rewards,” said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Josh Smith and Gerry Doyle)

Source: OANN

An employee roasts pork at a Korean BBQ restaurant in Seoul
An employee roasts pork at a Korean BBQ restaurant in Seoul, South Korea, March 13, 2019. Picture taken on March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Jane Chung

March 20, 2019

By Jane Chung

SEOUL (Reuters) – Whenever dust particles hang thick in the air in South Korea, sales of pork rise.

This quirky correlation in Asia’s fourth-largest economy, where air pollution outstrips industrialized peers, stems from an old belief attributed to coal miners, that the slippery pork oil helped cleanse dirt from their throats.

For middle school student Han Dong-jae, eating greasy barbecued pork belly on a smoggy day is a life lesson imbibed from his mother.

“I eat more pork when fine dust is dense like today,” said the 15-year-old as he dug in over a sizzling grill at a barbecue restaurant in Seoul with his mother after school.

“I think it’s somewhat helpful, because pork meat has oil and the oil soothes my throat.”

Scientists say there is no rationale for the belief, but pork sales jumped about a fifth on the year from Feb. 28 to March 5, when pollutants blanketed most areas, data from major retailers E-Mart and Lotte Mart showed.

SOCIAL DISASTER

South Korea faces a battle against unhealthy air, a combination of domestic emissions from coal-fired power plants and cars, and pollutants wafted in from China and North Korea.

Its air quality was the worst among its industrialized peers in 2017, data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) grouping of wealthy nations showed.

South Korea registers 25.1 micrograms per cubic meter of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers on average each year, just over double the OECD figure of 12.5, but far lower than the world average of 44.2.

The pollution has affected South Korean policy and businesses, driving up shares of companies that make air purifiers and masks.

Legislation this month included a measure designating the problem a “social disaster”, which could unlock emergency funds.

Cho Seog-yeon, an environmental engineering professor at Inha University, called for more study of the exact damage wrought by high levels of concentrated pollutants, adding, “We don’t know now where the damage is done (by air pollution).”

People battle the air pollution by wearing masks and staying indoors. But in a country where 28 percent of all households have a pet, furry companions are a priority too.

Sales of pet masks surged more than five times in early March, said Suh Hyuk-jin, director of pet products maker Dear Dog.

Cho Eun-hye, who lives in the northwestern city of Incheon, bought a mask for her 18-month-old brown Korean Jindo dog, Hari, who needs to be walked two times a day.

“It’s inconvenient, but I think we have to keep living with that,” said the 36-year-old office worker.

(Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Karishma Singh and Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

Dominique Auzias, co-founder of the Petit Fute French touristic guide book, poses during an interview with Reuters for the launching of their North Korea guide book in Paris
Dominique Auzias, co-founder of the Petit Fute French touristic guide book, poses during an interview with Reuters for the launching of their North Korea guide book in Paris, France, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

March 19, 2019

By John Irish and Noémie Olive

PARIS (Reuters) – A French publisher has produced a rare guide to North Korea, highlighting its history, cultural wealth and beautiful landscapes but advising tourists not to take the politically sensitive book with them.

Tourism is one of the few remaining reliable sources of foreign income for North Korea, after the U.N. imposed sanctions targeting 90 percent of its $3 billion annual exports including commodities, textiles and seafood.

Tensions over North Korea’s tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles spiked on the Korean peninsular last year and there were fears of a U.S. military response to North Korea’s threat to develop a weapon capable of hitting the United States.

“There are a lot of people that are interested in this country be it for nuclear and military reasons, but also economically so … it’s important to provide information,” said Dominique Auzias, president of the Petit Fute, which publishes some 800 guides.

“As it’s a country that’s closed and forbidden everybody dreams of going there,” he said.

Some 400 French tourists visit the country each year with trips costing about 2,000 euros ($2,267).

The reclusive communist state has no official diplomatic relations with France.

Talks in June last year between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provided a detente even if in recent weeks tensions have once again flared.

North Korean authorities would probably confiscate the printed edition given some of the material, Auzias said.

“You don’t go for adventure, but to discover,” he said.

The guide, which took three years to put together, touches little on where to stay or eat because accessing the country as a tourist can only be done through specific travel agents who determine what visitors see.

In some cases however they respond to requests and Auzias said the guide helps people decide what they would like to see.

It makes clear it is imperative to stick to the country’s strict rules or face dire consequences as American student Otto Warmbier did in 2016 when he was sentenced to 15 years of forced labor for trying to steal a propaganda poster in his hotel.

He was returned to the United States in a coma 17 months later, and died shortly after. A coroner said he died from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain.

“The first time I went 10-12 years ago I was proud because I was one of the rare French citizens to get in … but my second moment of happiness was about three weeks later when I left because it was suffocating and mind-boggling,” Auzias said.

(Reporting by John Irish and Noemeie Olive; Editing by Bate Felix and Alexandra Hudson)

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Residents hold US and North Korean flags while they wait for motorcade of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un en route to the Metropole Hotel for the second US- North Korea summit in Hanoi
Residents hold US and North Korean flags while they wait for motorcade of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un en route to the Metropole Hotel for the second US- North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kham

March 18, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two senior U.S. senators called on Monday for the Trump administration to correct a slowing pace of U.S. sanctions designations on North Korea, saying there had been a marked decline in the past year of U.S. engagement with Pyongyang.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Republican Cory Gardner and Democrat Ed Markey called for a recommitment to robust enforcement of U.S. and United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

The senators, the chairman and ranking member respectively of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, complained that the pace of sanctions designations on North Korea had “slowed considerably” in the past year of U.S. diplomatic engagement with the country.

They cited research by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank saying that the Trump administration had sanctioned 182 persons and entities for North Korea sanctions violations since March 31, 2017, but only 26 since Feb. 23, 2018, “despite ample evidence of illicit behavior from Pyongyang and its enablers.”

The letter pointed to a 2019 U.N. report which found that North Korea had continued to defy U.N. sanctions with a massive increase in smuggling of petroleum products and coal and violation of bans on arms sales.

While welcoming U.S. diplomatic efforts aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, the senators’ letter said “the status quo is unacceptable and is contrary to the administration’s ‘maximum pressure and engagement’ doctrine.”

U.S.-North Korea engagement has appeared to be in limbo after a second summit in the past year between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke down last month over conflicting demands for sanctions relief and denuclearization.

The State and Treasury Departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Senators’ letter.

Pompeo said in a radio interview on Monday that the administration had “the toughest economic sanctions in history,” on North Korea “but the most promising diplomatic engagement in history” with the country as well.

Speaking to B98 FM in Kansas, Pompeo said Washington aimed to reengage with Kim. Pompeo said on March 5 that he was hopeful he could send a team to North Korea “in the next couple of weeks,” but there has been no sign of such direct engagement since the Feb. 27-28 summit.

The State Department said the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who has led working-level talks with Pyongyang, would travel to London on Tuesday to meet British, French, and German counterparts to discuss coordinated efforts to advance North Korean denuclearization.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean National Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo take part in an armed forces full honor arrival ceremony in Washington
South Korean National Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo reviews an honor guard during an armed forces full honor arrival ceremony hosted by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis before the 50th annual ROK-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

March 18, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – It is too soon to tell if recent activity at some of North Korea’s rocket facilities is preparation for a missile launch, South Korea’s defense minister told a parliamentary hearing on Monday.

Early in March, several American think-tanks and South Korean officials reported that satellite imagery showed possible preparations for a launch from the Sohae rocket launch site at Tongchang-ri, North Korea, which has been used in the past to launch satellites but not intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

“It’s hasty to call it missile-related activity,” Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo told a parliamentary defense committee.

“Tongchang-ri is a launch site but we don’t see any activity being carried out for a missile launch.”

When asked if he could confirm whether Sohae was functionally restored, Jeong said it was inappropriate for intelligence authorities to comment on every media report one way or the other.

He also said there were signs of continued nuclear activity in North Korea, without elaborating.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told a separate parliamentary panel that it was possible that the recent developments at the missile site were to bolster North Korea’s leverage in negotiations.

“But given North Korea’s continued work, thorough analysis is needed to find out its exact intentions,” Cho said.

On Friday, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told foreign diplomats and journalists in Pyongyang that leader Kim Jong Un was considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a freeze on missile and nuclear tests unless the United States made concessions.

The activity at Sohae appeared to begin shortly before U.S. President Trump met Kim at a summit in Hanoi late last month.

The summit broke down over differences about U.S. demands for North Korea to denuclearize and its demand for dramatic relief from international sanctions imposed for its nuclear and missile tests, which it pursued for years in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Trump said after his first summit with Kim in Singapore last June that Kim had promised to dismantle the Sohae test site, a pledge the North Korean leader reiterated and expanded on at a summit with Moon in September.

North Korea has used Sohae to launch satellites into space since 2011, and the United States says its work there has helped develop missile technology.

A satellite launch in April 2012 killed off an Obama administration deal for a freeze in North Korean nuclear and missile testing reached weeks earlier.

On Wednesday, 38 North, a group that monitors North Korea, reported that there had been no new activity at Sohae since March 8.

On Friday, the group reported that satellite imagery showed no activity at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor complex, or at dismantled facilities at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

President Donald Trump has found North Korea to be an unwilling partner on a denuclearization pact, according to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

"The North Koreans were unfortunately not willing to do what they needed to do," Bolton told "The Cats Roundtable" on 970 AM-N.Y., per The Hill. "Just [Friday] night they issued an unhelpful statement that they're thinking of going back to nuclear and ballistic missile testing, which would not be a good idea on their part."

With the negotiations stalled after two summits, the last of which President Trump had walked away from, the United States is not giving up on its goal to denuclearization the Korean Peninsula.

"President Trump wants this threat resolved through negotiations," Bolton added to host John Catsimatidis, per The Hill. "He wants North Korea to be free of nuclear weapons, that's for sure."

With Chairman Kim Jong Un unwavering in his own goals of making North Korea a nuclear power, the U.S. would be left with economic sanctions and pressure from allies, like China, in lieu of diplomacy.

"The idea that there's a role for China in the negotiations is something that we'd be willing to consider if we could see some movement on North Korea's part," Bolton said, per The Hill. "The Chinese have said repeatedly they don't want to see North Korea with nuclear weapons at all because they think it destabilizes North East Asia . . .

"In theory, China has the same position we do. What they could do more of is apply more pressure on North Korea. They could apply the U.N. sanctions more tightly. They control 90 percent of North Korea's external trade, so China could have a very important role here. There's no question about it."

Relying on China has not been all that easy, though, particularly amid the United States' own pressure campaign in trade negotiations – making it possible Russia might have to be involved there.

"China is building up its nuclear capacity now," Bolton said, per The Hill. "It's one of the reasons why we're looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States.

"And it's one reason why, if we're going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China that discussion as well."

Source: NewsMax

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes his way to board a train to depart for North Korea at Dong Dang railway station
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes his way to board a train to depart for North Korea at Dong Dang railway station in Vietnam, March 2, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

March 15, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A dissident organization committed to overthrowing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was behind a raid on the North Korean embassy in Spain last month, The Washington Post reported on Friday, quoting people familiar with the planning and execution of the mission.

The newspaper, which did not further identify its sources, identified the group as Cheollima Civil Defense, which also goes by the name Free Joseon. It said the group came to prominence in 2017 after evacuating a nephew of Kim from Macau when potential threats to his life surfaced.

The Post’s sources said the group did not act in coordination with any governments and U.S. intelligence agencies would have been especially reluctant to be involved given the sensitive timing of the mission ahead of a second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi from Feb. 27-28.

According to Spanish media accounts, broadly confirmed by a Spanish Foreign Ministry source, a group of unidentified men entered North Korea’s embassy in Madrid on Feb. 22, bound and gagged staff, and drove off four hours later with computers.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

The dissident group identified by the Washington Post could not be reached for comment and its purported website has made no mention of any involvement in the raid.

On Feb. 25 the website posted a statement saying the group had “received a request for help from comrades in a certain Western country” and that “it was a highly dangerous situation but (we) responded.” The group said an important announcement would be coming that week, but no details of any operation have been released.

The Madrid embassy is where North Korea’s chief working-level negotiator in talks with the United States, Kim Hyok Chol, was ambassador until 2017.

Intelligence experts said computers and phones reportedly seized in the raid would be eagerly sought by foreign intelligence agencies given the information they might contain on Kim Hyok Chol and others.

Asked about the Washington Post report, the U.S. State Department referred queries to the Spanish authorities. The CIA declined to comment.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Josh Smith and Joyce Lee in Seoul; editing by Grant McCool)

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Virginia Kruta | Associate Editor

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a moment to remind everyone that the United States has a “Muslim ban” — but she missed a few key facts.

Laying the blame squarely at the feet of President Donald Trump and the Republicans who don’t stop him, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Daily reminder that we have a **Muslim Ban** in this country made out of the President’s hostility to Muslim people w/ little-to-no supporting evidence, and a Republican Party that tolerates it. There is so much work to do. Repealing the Ban is square 1.”

But the travel ban, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last June, doesn’t strictly ban travel from Muslim countries. Of the seven nations on the list, five are majority Muslim: Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Iran and Libya. The others on the list are North Korea (primarily Buddhist/Confucianist) and Venezuela (primarily Roman Catholic). (RELATED: Nearly 40,000 Visa Applications Were Denied In 2018 Thanks To Trump Travel Ban)

Also, there are nearly 50 countries worldwide that are considered “Muslim majority” nations. The travel ban list only includes five of them, which means 90 percent of the countries where Muslims are the majority religion are not affected by the travel ban at all.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference in Washington
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

March 15, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is hopeful that it can continue to hold denuclearization talks with North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday following reports that a top Pyongyang official had said the country may suspend negotiations.

Pompeo, speaking at a news conference, also said he had every expectation that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would live up to his commitment not to resume nuclear and missile testing.

“We’re hopeful that we can continue to have conversations, negotiations,” the top U.S. diplomat told reporters, adding that North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui had left open the possibility of continued talks in the reported remarks.

“It’s the administration’s desire that we continue to have conversations around this,” Pompeo added.

U.S. officials have said they remain open to talks after the second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump collapsed last month with no deal, but have given no specifics.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton, David Brunnstrum and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Nick Givas | Media And Politics Reporter

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday there are at least five other major issues facing the United States that top climate change.

“Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade asked Pompeo during an interview Friday where he’d rank global warming on a threat scale.

Pompeo responded that it doesn’t even crack the top five biggest threats America is facing. (RELATED: Mike Pompeo Tells Embassy In Venezuela To Come Home)

“Yeah. I wouldn’t put it in the top five,” he said. “Because I can count to five that gets you to things that present more risks to the people I used to represent in Kansas and citizens all across America.”

WATCH:

Pompeo claimed nuclear threats from countries like China, Pakistan and North Korea pose a far greater danger to the U.S. than any climate change concerns.

“Whether it’s the threat that we’ve talked about today from China … the nuclear proliferation risk that extends from Pakistan through all those folks who have these weapon systems, places like North Korea where they can sell these weapons,” he continued. “I think I’m at five already. But I could give you a whole list of threats that I think we can effect change on in a way that will really make a difference for the security of the American people.”

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Mark Whittington | Contributor

President Trump has already signed the directive establishing the United States Space Force. For now, the Space Force will be a new branch of the military subordinate to the Air Force much as the Marine Corps is part of the United States Navy. The new organization will be relatively small and will include current space war-fighting assets of the United States military.

The first threat the Space Force must face is the United States Congress, which may or may not approve the new service branch. Presuming that the Space Force survives the legislative process, it will face several real threats to America’s space assets.

Tthe Defense Intelligence Agency released a non-classified report in February noting that Russia, a declining former super power, and China, an aspiring super power, are developing technologies to attack American space assets, including communications, navigation, and reconnaissance satellites. North Korea and Iran, both rogue states, are also considered possible threats.

In 2007, China tested a space weapon that blew up a defunct weather satellite. The test was successful but created a swarm of space debris. In a real war, the use of such weapons would render space inaccessible because of the amount of debris the destruction of satellites would cause. Even so, China’s arsenal of space weapons still includes kinetic energy missiles.

The DIA report suggests that China and to a certain extent Russia are developing a range of approaches to disrupt and even destroy American satellites. These technologies include electronic jamming, cyberattacks, directed energy weapons, such as lasers, designed to not so much destroy as to blind satellites, and orbital weapons that could capture or deorbit American satellites.

Not only the United States military but American society is dependent on space-based assets. An “orbital Pearl Harbor” could wreck both the American economy and the United States military’s ability to wage war against distant enemies. At the same time, Russia and China are developing their own satellite systems to enhance their militaries’ ability to conduct operations across the world.

The United States Space Force’s main mission will be to harden and defend American space assets against attack and to strike at enemy nations’ satellites in the event of war. Space is a new environment for war fighting, with its unique challenges that Space Force supporters note cry out for a branch of the military that can focus on conflict in that realm.

Going forward, as the United States expands its influence into space, including the moon’s surface, the Space Force’s mission will necessarily expand to protect deep space assets, as well. China especially will be a competitor in a new race to the moon and beyond. A Space Force presence on the moon would serve a peace-keeping function, ensuring that any unfriendly power such as China or Russia will not be tempted to interfere with NASA, allied, or commercial operations on Earth’s nearest neighbor.

Space debris remains a chronic problem and is only getting worse as satellites reach the end of their useful lives. One possible mission for the Space Force would be to help clean up this debris. The task would provide an excellent peacetime practice for orbital operations, honing skills that would be useful in time of war.

The Space Force could also have a missile defense role. The Trump administration is interested in reviving the Reagan-era SDI program and deploy anti-missile weapons in space.

Just as aviation’s development in the 20th century led to the establishment of a separate United States Air Force soon after World War II, space as a venue for exploration, commercial enterprise, and military operations inevitably leads to a separate Space Force. The ability to keep the peace and, failing that, wage war in space are vital to the continuation of the United States, not only as a super power, but also a sovereign nation.

Mark Whittington (@MarkWhittington) is the author of Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? and The Moon, Mars and Beyond. He also operates his own blog, Curmudgeons Corner.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un visits Vietnam
FILE PHOTO: Hyon Song Wol, head of the North Korean Samjiyon art troupe takes a photo of Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-Hui (C) ahead of the welcoming ceremony of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam March 1, 2019. Luong Thai Linh/Pool via REUTERS

March 15, 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea is considering suspending nuclear talks with the United States, Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said on Friday, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.

North Korea has no intention to yield to U.S. demands or engage in negotiations of this kind, Choe told a press conference in the North Korean capital Pyongyang, TASS reported.

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un is set to make an official announcement soon on his position regarding talks with United States, TASS reported, citing Choe.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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David Hookstead | Reporter

I’m happy to report that the majority of people answered correctly when I recently asked if they loved March Madness.

With the conference tournament games underway, I thought it was important to identify potential communist and freedom haters. Obviously, there was a very simple way to do this. (RELATED: Michigan State Favored To Win Big Ten Basketball Tournament)

I asked people on Twitter if they hated America or if they loved March Madness. Very simple choices to choose from. Of the 743 voters, 78 percent of them voted that they do love this time of year.

It’s moments like these that remind me that there’s still hope for America. You can either love March Madness, or you can get the hell out.

By voting “no,” people were identifying themselves as the enemies of this country. Let’s think for a moment what March Madness is all about.

It’s about beer, parties, great basketball, hot women and creating memories. It’s literally impossible to not meet women during the games. That’s a fact. Picking up pro-basketball women is easiest this time of year, and those are the only women you want to date.

If you hate everything listed above, then I’ll purchase you a ticket to North Korea.

Some of the best moments of my life have come while watching games during March Madness. They’re memories that will never be forgotten.

Plus, you’re not living if you’re not putting every penny you have to risk on the games. That’s as American as it gets.

So, grab a beer, dial up your boys, have a pro-basketball lady ready to come over and enjoy March. This is what it’s all about, gentlemen.

This is what we train for. This is why we get reps in the offseason. I’m proud to be on this journey with each and every one of you.

Now, let’s get after it.

Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is being loaded at Saudi Aramco's Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia
FILE PHOTO: An oil tanker is being loaded at Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia May 21, 2018.REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo

March 14, 2019

By Rania El Gamal, Chen Aizhu and Min Zhang

DUBAI/SINGAPORE/BEIJING (Reuters) – Rising Russian and U.S. competition has pushed Saudi Aramco to find new buyers for its oil in China, encouraging a shift toward independent refiners and newcomers to the business.

It reflects a new strategy for the Saudi Arabian oil giant after years of dealing almost exclusively with major state-owned Chinese energy firms, industry sources say.

But the change in tack may not offer the same returns. Aramco’s new partners lack the scale and marketing reach of PetroChina and Sinopec Corp, the state-run firms that dominate China’s refining, petrochemical and retail fuel business, analysts say.

Aramco had been talking to PetroChina for years about a refining venture in Yunnan province in the southwest, but industry sources said the plans had been effectively shelved due to poor economics and disagreement over marketing rights.

Aramco, which did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment for this report, has instead turned to new and independent players in China’s refining and petrochemical industry.

In February, it agreed to form a venture with Chinese defense conglomerate Norinco to develop a $10 billion refining and petrochemicals complex in the city of Panjin, in the northeast province of Liaoning.

It also signed memorandums of understanding to expand its activities in Zhejiang province in the east. The plans include buying 9 percent of Zhejiang Petrochemical to secure a stake in a 800,000 barrel per day (bpd) refinery and petrochemicals complex in the city of Zhoushan, south of Shanghai.

The deals are part of a strategy shift to court new buyers, including smaller, independently run refiners, known as “teapots”, industry sources say.

“The private players are more open and entrepreneurial. They also need the oil and the experience,” said one source familiar with the recent deals in China.

CATCHING UP

The strategy has helped put Saudi Arabia on track to lift oil exports to China to 1.5 million bpd in the first quarter, catching up with Russia which has been China’s No. 1 supplier for three years in a row.

In 2018, Russia exported the equivalent of 1.43 million bpd to China, while Saudi Arabia exported 1.135 million bpd, customs data showed. U.S. shipments are still much smaller but have risen fast, surging 25 percent in 2018 to just under 250,000 bpd, although a trade row made them stall in December.

A change of management in Chinese state-run PetroChina and Sinopec, as well as tougher competition from rival crude suppliers, have made it harder for Aramco to secure deals, such as the Yunnan refining venture, industry sources said.

Aramco signed a memorandum of understanding in 2011 with PetroChina to supply oil to the Yunnan plant. But talks on the deal hit a roadblock in mid-2018, the sources said.

“Yunnan went on for five years and it is dead now,” one of the industry sources said. The deal was undermined by the cost of sending crude by pipeline across Myanmar and because PetroChina was not keen to share its marketing rights with Aramco, the sources said.

Aramco aims to expand refining and petrochemical output in China through long-term contracts and access to retail and marketing rights with other firms. But analysts say its new partners may not offer the same reach as the big, state players.

“Independents have a smaller footprint across the value chain and less experience in trading,” said Michal Meidan of Energy Aspects. “The challenge of partnering with independents is precisely the limits of access to the retail market.”

MARKET SHARE

Sinopec and PetroChina control about two-thirds of retail sales in China, while independents together have about a quarter, industry experts say. The Norinco deal includes a plan to set up a fuel retail business and a marketing venture between Aramco, North Huajin and Liaoning Transportation Construction Investment Group Co. The refining complex is in a region dominated by PetroChina and has one of China’s slowest economic growth rates. But it lies close to North Korea, offering scope in future to expand beyond China, sources familiar with the deal say.

Liaoning Transportation leases fuel stations to PetroChina and Sinopec, so the new venture might still need to buy the Chinese majors out or wait until the leases end, said a Huajin oil executive, who asked not to be named.

Norinco declined to comment.

In Zhejiang, alongside taking a stake in a refining and petrochemical complex, Aramco would utilize an oil storage facility to serve Aramco’s Asian customers and set up a retail network in the province with Zhejiang Energy.

Securing retail rights proved a challenge for Aramco when dealing with state firms.

Zhejiang Energy was not immediately available for comment.

A Zhejiang-based executive, who asked not to be named, said Zhejiang Petrochemical had similar memorandums of understanding for retail cooperation with Western energy firms, suggesting Aramco faced competition in the market.

The executive also said the Chinese partners had yet to pick a site for setting up the storage facility and associated crude terminal.

Zhejiang Petrochemical declined to comment.

(Editing by Edmund Blair)

Source: OANN

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang answers questions about a major bus accident in North Korea, during a news conference in Beijing
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang answers questions about a major bus accident in North Korea, during a news conference in Beijing, China April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

March 14, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday a U.S. State Department human rights report critical of China was filled with “ideological prejudice and groundless accusations”.

China hoped the United States would take a close look at its own rights record, ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

A general view of the construction site of the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre for Tokyo 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the construction site of the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre for Tokyo 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

March 13, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will consider allowing North Korean athletes into the country to compete in the 2020 Olympics despite sanctions currently banning any from entering Japan, their Olympics minister said on Wednesday.

North Korean athletes took part in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics held in neighboring South Korea, with the two nations fielding a unified team in women’s ice hockey and one pair of North Korean figure skaters qualifying. International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Thomas Bach has said the IOC is committed to promoting Korean peace efforts.

North and South Korea have told the IOC they would like to march together in Tokyo, and have also officially requested to enter joint teams in the qualifying process for four sports – women’s basketball, women’s hockey, the judo mixed team event and some men’s and women’s rowing teams.

Japanese Olympics minister Yoshitaka Sakurada told parliament on Wednesday that the government will review allowing athletes from the North to take part, Kyodo news agency said.

“The Olympics and Paralympics is the world’s largest peace event, and it is desirable to have as many participants as possible,” Sakurada was quoted as saying.

He added that the move will require understanding “in a number of areas” and that he will work with other officials to deal with it.

Japan instituted a number of sanctions against North Korea following a series of nuclear and missile tests that include not allowing its citizens to enter. Ties are also strained as the result of Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese citizens to train them as spies decades ago.

Sakurada’s comments on Wednesday mark a change from last year, when he was quoted by Japan’s Sankei Shimbun daily shortly after taking office as saying that solving the abduction issue, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has emphasized during his years in office, was a pre-requisite for the North’s athletes to take part.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Ossian Shine)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Abe hold bilateral meeting on sidelines of 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

March 13, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan has decided for the first time in years not to submit to the United Nations a joint resolution condemning North Korea’s human rights abuses, given U.S. efforts to end North Korea’s weapons program and other factors, Japan said on Wednesday.

Japan and the European Union have submitted a motion condemning North Korea’s rights record to the United Nations every year since 2008. North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of rights abuses.

“The decision was made taking into consideration various factors comprehensively, such as results of the summit meeting between the United States and North Korea and the situation of Japan’s abduction issue,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held their second summit last month on U.S. demands that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and the lifting of sanctions.

But the talks in Vietnam broke down without agreement.

Staunch U.S. ally Japan is keeping a wary eye on the dialogue between the United States and North Korea amid concern a deal between those old foes could lead to a scaling back of U.S. commitments in East Asia.

Japan also worries that its crucial issue of the fate of its citizens abducted by North Korean agents will take a back seat to nuclear and missile issues in U.S.-North Korean talks.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Trump had raised the issue of kidnapped Japanese citizens in his summit with Kim.

Abe has said Japan was committed to normalizing diplomatic relations with North Korea but several issues, including North Korea’s kidnapping of its citizens, must be resolved first.

North Korea admitted in 2002 it had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s to train as spies, and five of them returned to Japan. Japan suspects that hundreds more may have been taken.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

First Phase of the President Trump's FY2020 Budget Proposal Released
The Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) release copies of the first phase of the president’s FY2020 budget proposal in Washington, U.S., March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

March 12, 2019

By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Just when it looks like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may restart his ballistic missile testing program, U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed trimming the missile defense budget, as one set of deterrents is delayed by two years.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency – charged with developing, testing and fielding a ballistic missile defense system – will delay the expansion of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system by two years because of a delay in the redesign of the Raytheon Co-made “kill vehicle” the system uses.

A “kill vehicle” pops off the top of the defending missile above the Earth’s atmosphere and seeks out and destroys the attacking missile’s warhead.

The GMD is a network of radars, anti-ballistic missiles based in Alaska and California, and other equipment designed to protect the United States from intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMS.

The expansion of the field of interceptors in Alaska from 44 ground-based interceptors, or GBIs, to 64 had been slated for completion in 2023. But the delay, due to technical issues and not connected to the cut in the agency’s budget, now means that the placement of the additional 20 interceptors will not be operational until 2025, the MDA said on Tuesday.

“The important thing is to get it right, and if we’re going to build more GBI’s, we want to put the best kill vehicle on the top of it,” said Tom Karako, a missile defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

At the same time, North Korea has been pushing ahead with its nuclear weapons program after a summit meeting between Kim and Trump in Hanoi ended abruptly on Feb. 28 without an agreement on denuclearization.

New activity has been detected at a North Korean ICBM plant, South Korean media said on Thursday, as Trump said he would be “very disappointed” if Pyongyang rebuilt a rocket site.

In the budget, the Missile Defense Agency, or MDA, saw its appropriation cut by $1 billion to $9.4 billion.

Michelle Atkinson the acting comptroller of the MDA told reporters, “what you are seeing in ’20 actually looks like a decrease, but it’s really just the declining funding,” as the agency comes off recent financial injections.

Trump’s smaller request comes on the heels of a significant budget boost last year after several North Korean missile tests.

One Pentagon-wide effort in lasers that could be used to defeat missiles saw investment slow dramatically. After nearly doubling just the MDA’s budget for directed energy from $109 million in 2018 to $224 million in 2019, the Pentagon as a whole plans to invest only $235 million in the technology in fiscal 2020.

Among other proposals included in a recently published Missile Defense Review is one involving lasers mounted on drones – aimed at stopping missiles just after takeoff in what is called the boost phase.

During this portion of the flight the missile is most vulnerable, flying at its slowest speed, easily detected by the heat from its engines and incapable of evading interceptors as it accelerates to break out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

(Reporting by Mike Stone; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: OANN

Donald Trump Jr. fired back at Dick Cheney after the former vice president questioned the administration’s foreign policy.

The president’s son made his remarks Tuesday on Twitter. 

He wrote: “Isn't it fitting that Cheney is the one mad that Trump is ending his reckless and endless wars? I never knew peace would be so unpopular!”

The Washington Post had reported Cheney was critical of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy in a conversation with Vice President Mike Pence at an American Enterprise Institute retreat over the weekend.

Cheney made it clear that he disagrees with how President Trump is handling policy in the Middle East and North Korea.

Source: NewsMax

Moon Chung-in, South Korea Special Advisor for Unification, at WSJ CEO Conference in Tokyo
Moon Chung-in, Special Advisor for Unification, Foreign and Security Affairs to South KoreaÕs President Moon Jae-in, speaks during the Wall Street Journal CEO Conference in Tokyo, Japan May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

March 12, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – The United States should seek the gradual denuclearisation of North Korea because an “all-or-nothing” strategy will not help break an impasse in talks, a special adviser to South Korea’s president said on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held their second summit last month on U.S. demands that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and the lifting of sanctions.

But the talks in Vietnam broke down without agreement, although the two leaders parted on good terms.

Moon Chung-in, a special national security adviser to South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, said both sides were to blame for the breakdown, but the United States appeared to have suddenly toughened its stand and called for North Korea’s complete denuclearisation despite earlier suggestions it might agree to a phased approach.

“The United States made excessive demands on North Korea to reach a big deal, whereas Chairman Kim was overconfident that he could persuade Trump to get what he wants for closing down the Yongbyon main nuclear complex,” Moon Chung-in said.

Moon pointed to a speech by U.S. nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun at Stanford University, in which he vowed to pursue parallel commitments and a “roadmap of negotiations and declarations”.

But in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, the U.S. side back-pedalled and called for a comprehensive deal, Moon said.

“After Biegun’s Stanford speech, I had a strong impression that they’re being realistic, but at the summit, they actually took an all-or-nothing position,” Moon said.

He said the North would have got a deal if it had addressed U.S. concerns by making a commitment to abandon its uranium enrichment program at other facilities, not just at its main facility of Yongbyon.

Biegun told a conference in Washington on Monday that “diplomacy was still very much alive” although the United States was closely watching activity at a North Korean rocket site and did not know if it might be planning a new launch.

A U.S. think-tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, last week reported activity at North Korea’s Sohae rocket launch site, with satellite images showing possible preparations for a launch.

Moon said it would be a “mistake” if North Korea pressed ahead with a launch, after promising Trump it would halt such activity.

Biegun also rejected the incremental approach sought by North Korea, saying easing sanctions for partial steps would amount to subsidizing North Korea’s weapons program.

The collapse of the Hanoi summit was a blow to President Moon, who has promoted engagement with old rival North Korea and held three summits last year with its leader, Kim.

The South Korean president had hoped that a deal would bring an easing of U.S. sanctions and that would clear the way for a resumption of inter-Korean economic projects, including a factory park and tourism zone.

The adviser Moon said South Korea could play a role as a facilitator between the United State and North Korea, more than a role of mediator.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

Former Vice President Dick Cheney conveyed the message to Vice President Mike Pence over the weekend that he believes portions of the Trump administration's policy resemble that of the previous White House.

The Washington Post reported on a conversation the two men had at an American Enterprise Institute retreat in Sea Island, Ga. on Saturday. Cheney was respectful to the current occupant of the U.S. Naval Observatory, but he made it clear that he disagrees with how President Donald Trump is handing things in the Middle East and North Korea.

"We're getting into a situation when our friends and allies around the world that we depend upon are going to lack confidence in us," Cheney said, alluding to Trump's decision to withdraw most U.S. troops from Syria.

"I worry that the bottom line of that kind of an approach is we have an administration that looks a lot more like Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan."

Regarding North Korea, Cheney said he's worried about Trump canceling military exercises with South Korea and noted that a recent report regarding a White House proposal to charge U.S. allies for hosting American troops the full cost plus an additional 50 percent was alarming.

"I don't know, that sounded like a New York state real estate deal to me," Cheney said.

Pence responded to Cheney's concern over the cancelation of U.S.-South Korea war games by insisting that the U.S. military will remain ready to respond to any crisis on the Korean peninsula.

"We're going to continue [to] train," Pence said. "We're going to continue to work closely with South Korea. We have a tremendous alliance there."

The debate took place during Cheney's interview of Pence for those in attendance. The event was marked off the record, but the Post claims to have obtained a transcript.

Source: NewsMax

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

Malaysian authorities released Monday one of two women accused of assassinating Kim Jong Un’s half-brother with VX nerve agent after prosecutors dropped her charges.

Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas said prosecutors dropped the charges against Siti Aisyah, 26, in response to lobbying from the government of her native Indonesia, which asked for her release at every meeting with Malaysian officials. Aisyah stood accused along with Doan Thi Huong of  killing Kim Jong Nam by applying VX nerve agent to his face in February 2017 in the airport in Kuala Lumpur. (RELATED: ‘Sometimes You Have To Walk’: Trump Leaves Second NoKo Summit With No Deal)

“I feel very happy. I didn’t expect that today will be the day of my freedom,” Aisyah said at a press conference, according to The Washington Post.

Aisyah’s attorney, Gooi Soon Seng, also hailed the decision.

“We are grateful the public prosecutor has come to this conclusion, because we truly believe she is merely a scapegoat and she is innocent,” he said.

Indonesian national Siti Aisyah (C) is escorted by Malaysian police after a special court session to rule on witness statements at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur on December 14, 2018 for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesian national Siti Aisyah (C) is escorted by Malaysian police after a special court session to rule on witness statements at the Shah Alam High Court, outside Kuala Lumpur on December 14, 2018 for her alleged role in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Thomas wrote in a letter to Indonesia’s minister of law and human rights that prosecutors decided to drop Aisyah’s charges and release her “taking into account the good relations” between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Aisyah and Huong have maintained since their arrests that they thought they were participating in a prank show and were going to apply lotion to a man’s face. Four North Koreans fled Malaysia on the day of Kim Jong Nam’s assassination, and authorities arrested only Aisyah and Huong. Authorities believe that Kim Jong Un had his half-brother assassinated as part of an effort to consolidate his power after he became the ruler of North Korea.

Kim Jong Nam was the eldest son of their late father Kim Jong Il, and therefore presented a potential threat to Kim Jong Un’s legitimacy as ruler of North Korea.

A Malaysian high court ruled in August that existing evidence warranted prosecution of the four North Korean fugitives, Aisyah, and Huong on charges of conspiracy to murder Kim Jong Nam. Huong will still stand trial, though her lawyer, Teh Poh Teik, insists that she too is just a scapegoat and says that he is seeking her release on the basis that there is no difference between her case and that of Aisyah.

“We are hoping against hope that the charges against her will be dropped,” he said. “It is unfair that despite the case being the same for both, that one could have been dropped without explanation, while the other is being set to continue.”

Authorities believe that North Korean agents recruited Huong, who hails from Vietnam, while she worked at a bar in Hanoi. Her trial continues on Thursday.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

The State Department's special envoy for North Korea says the Trump administration won't budge from insisting that North Korea fully rid itself of nuclear weapons before the U.S. makes concessions.

Stephen Biegun on Monday told a conference sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that President Donald Trump wants a deal in which U.S. and international economic sanctions are lifted only when the North agrees to give up all elements of its nuclear weapons program.

Biegun says that at last month's Hanoi summit, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to eliminate a portion of his nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. He says Trump rejected this because it would have amounted to subsidizing the remaining portion of the nuclear program.

Source: NewsMax

A satellite image of North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station
A satellite image of North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Tongchang-ri) which Washington-based Stimson Center’s 38 North says, “Rebuilding continues at the engine test stand” is seen in this image released from Washington, DC, U.S., March 7, 2019. Courtesy Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North, Pleiades © CNES 2019, Distribution Airbus DS/Handout via REUTERS

March 11, 2019

By David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chief U.S. envoy for North Korea said on Monday that “diplomacy is still very much alive” with Pyongyang despite a failed summit last month, but cautioned that Washington was closely watching activity at a North Korean rocket site and did not know if it might be planning a new launch.

Stephen Biegun told a conference in Washington that although U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un parted on good terms after their Feb. 27-28 summit in Hanoi, big gaps remained between the two sides and North Korea needed to show it was fully committed to giving up its nuclear weapons.

Biegun stressed that U.S.-led sanctions, which Pyongyang wants dropped, would remain in place until North Korea completed the process of denuclearization.

As Biegun spoke at the Carnegie Nuclear Conference, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank issued a new report on activity at North Korea’s Sohae rocket launch site, in which satellite images from Friday showed possible preparations for a launch.

In the course of a nearly a year of diplomatic engagement with the United States, North Korea has maintained a freeze on missile and nuclear tests and space rocket launches in place since 2017 and Trump has repeatedly stressed this as a positive outcome of the diplomacy.

Biegun said Washington did not know what the activity spotted in North Korea meant. He said the Trump administration took it “very seriously” but cautioned against drawing any snap conclusions.

“What Kim Jong will ultimately decide to do may very much be his decision and his decision alone,” Biegun said, adding that Trump had made clear last week he would be “very disappointed” if North Korea were to resume testing.

An authoritative U.S. government source familiar with U.S. intelligence assessments said they did not conclude that a launch was imminent, given North Korea’s apparent desire to keep negotiations going with the United States. However, the source said Pyongyang appeared to want to make clear it retained the capability to resume launches at any moment.

“Diplomacy is still very much alive,” Biegun said, although he offered no specifics on when new talks might be held and did not say whether any talks had taken place since the summit, which collapsed over differences on U.S. demands for Pyongyang’s denuclearization and North Korea’s demand for sanctions relief.

ENGAGEMENT

“It’s certainly our expectation that we will be able to continue our close engagement,” Biegun said.

The State Department has declined say whether there has been any direct engagement between the two sides since the summit.

Trump has said he remains open to more talks with Kim and the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson told the conference she thought there would be another summit, but no date has been set.

Asked if there would be a third meeting, she said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump had “been very clear that they remain open to the dialogue. They haven’t got a date on the calendar but our teams continue to work toward that.”

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Sunday that the president was open to another summit but more time may be needed.

Thompson said it was “incredibly important” that all countries continued to maintain United Nations sanctions on North Korea until it gave up its nuclear weapons.

“We are not letting the foot off the gas. We are going to continue with the pressure campaign.” she said. “We are going to continue to hold those sanctions and we are going to continue to work with the team abroad to make sure those stay in place.”

Trump on Friday stressed again his belief in his personal rapport with Kim.

The CSIS report said commercial satellite images acquired last Wednesday and Friday showed North Korea had continued preparations on the launch pad at its Sohae launch facility and at the engine testing stand there.

“Based on past practices, these activities could be consistent with preparations for the delivery of a rocket to the launch pad or engine to the test stand; or they could be North Korean coercive bargain tactics,” it said.

Trump said after his first summit with Kim in Singapore last June that Kim had promised to dismantle the test stand, a pledge the North Korean leader reiterated and expanded on at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in September.

Pyongyang has used Sohae to launch satellites into space since 2011, and Washington says its work there has helped develop missile technology. A satellite launch in April 2012 killed off an Obama administration deal for a freeze in North Korean nuclear and missile testing reached weeks earlier.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Mark Hosenball, Matt Spetalnick and Arshad Mohammed; editing by Grant McCool)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump listen to questions from the media during the one-on-one bilateral meeting at the second North Korea-U.S. summit in the Metropole hotel in Hanoi
FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump listen to questions from the media during their one-on-one bilateral meeting at the second North Korea-U.S. summit in the Metropole hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

March 10, 2019

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is open to a third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but some time may have to go by before this takes place, Trump’s national security adviser said on Sunday.

Speaking on ABC, John Bolton said the United States has no illusions about North Korea’s capabilities, but Trump remains confident in his personal relationship with the North Korean leader.

Bolton’s comments came after two U.S. think tanks and Seoul’s spy agency said last week that North Korea was rebuilding a rocket launch site at Sohae in the west of the country.

There have also been reports from South Korea’s intelligence service of new activity at a factory at Sanumdong near Pyongyang that produced North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Bolton declined to discuss those reports or say whether a new North Korean missile launch would scuttle engagement with the United States. He said, however, that it was a mistake to assume North Korea would “automatically” comply with its obligations.

“The president’s confident in his personal relationship with Kim Jong Un. He’s invested a lot of time in trying to develop that relationship,” Bolton told ABC’s “This Week.”

“He said he’s open to a third summit, none has been scheduled, and some time may have to go by.  But he’s prepared to engage again because he does think that the prospects for North Korea, which he’s been trying to persuade Kim Jong Un to accept if they denuclearized, are really quite spectacular,” Bolton said.

Trump told reporters Friday he would be disappointed if Pyongyang were to resume weapons testing and reiterated his belief in his good relationship with the North Korean leader, despite the recent collapse of their second summit in Hanoi.

North Korea has frozen nuclear and missile testing since 2017, and Trump has pointed to this as a positive outcome from nearly a year of high-level engagement with North Korea.

Bolton said he thought Kim has a “very clear idea” where Trump stands on missile tests. U.S. intelligence is constantly watching North Korea, he said.

“We see exactly what they’re doing now.  We see it unblinkingly, and we don’t have any illusions about what their capabilities are,” he said.

Bolton said he was unaware of any recent U.S. contact with North Korea, but that he would be talking Monday with his South Korean counterpart, who may have been in touch with the North.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Source: OANN

Amid reports from "commercial" satellite images North Korea is rebuilding nuclear weapons testing sites and planning to test a ballistic missile, National Security Adviser John Bolton demurred the knowledge of "experts and pundits" is more advanced than that of the U.S. government.

The U.S. knows the score, knows the "mistakes of prior administrations" with North Korea, is working to make real progress, and finally, "the leverage is on our side right now," Bolton told ABC's "This Week."

"The president has been very clear he is not going to make the mistakes of prior administrations, and one of the mistakes of prior administrations was assuming the North Koreans would automatically comply when they undertake obligations," Bolton told host Martha Raddatz. "The North Koreans, for example, have pledged to give up their nuclear weapons program at least five separate times, beginning in 1992 with the joint North-South Denuclearization Agreement. They never seem to get around to it, though, so that's one reason why we pay particular attention to what North Korea is doing all the time.

"We see exactly what they're doing now. We see it unblinkingly, and we don't have any illusions about what their capabilities are."

Another test of a ballistic missile would be a deal-breaker from what President Donald Trump and North Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un have established in two prior summits – firsts for American leadership amid years of denuclearization efforts.

"As the president said, he'd be pretty disappointed if Kim Jong Un went ahead and did something like that," Bolton said of a feared missile test after a year of none. "The president said repeatedly he feels the absence of nuclear tests, the absence of ballistic missile launches is a positive sign, and he's used that really as a part of his effort to persuade Kim Jong Un that he has to go for what the president called 'The Big Deal: Complete Denuclearization.'"

The fact President has to walk away from the most recent summit with Kim should not be a cause for alarm, nor surprising, Bolton added.

"Nothing in the proliferation game surprises me anymore," he said. "I think Kim Jong Un has a very clear idea where the president stands, what the objectives the president is trying to achieve are.

"It's why the decision to walk away in a friendly way, as the president put it, from the Hanoi Summit was important for Kim Jong Un to understand the president – despite what a lot of the experts and pundits say – is not under pressure to make any deal.

"He wants to make the right deal, and he described it to Kim Jong Un at the Hanoi meeting."

Bolton concluded President Trump has worked to gain leverage on the long failed hope of North Korean denuclearization.

"The historical lesson is time is inevitably on the side of the proliferator in the long run," he said. "Right now I think it's the president's judgment, and I think it's correct, that the economic leverage that we have because of the sanctions puts the pressure on North Korea.

"Now it's one reason why all of the pundits and all of the experts predicting a deal in Hanoi were wrong, because the leverage is on our side right now, not on North Korea's."

Source: NewsMax

James Durso | Contributor

After accusing Republicans of voter suppression at every turn, Democrats are showing us how it’s really done.

This week, House Democrats blew an easy lay-up — a powerful resolution against anti-Semitism — and birthed a muddle of a resolution that decried discrimination against African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants. Using Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s criteria, this empty, “All Lives Matter” gesture covers everyone in America.

If this happened in a foreign parliament, the American ambassador would be remonstrating against intolerance, and the editorial pages of the “quality press” would be knitting their brows about a resurgence of Nazis in (insert name of European country here).

The outbreak of anti-Semitism among House Democrats follows a similar eruption in the United Kingdom led by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. This week we got our own Jeremy Corbyn: Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Clear-eyed Democrats understand the moral and practical political dangers of fostering anti-Semitism, especially given the Democrat’s historic support for slavery in the Antebellum South, and segregation in the post-war Solid South. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has practical political problems of her own: keeping control of the Democrat caucus (and her job), and defeating Donald Trump in 2020. By the end of the week she succeeded and the Democrats circled the wagons to protect the instigator of the disgrace, Ilhan Omar, in what John Podhoretz called an “inflection point in American political history.”

The announced 2020 Democratic candidates for president — including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren — showed their stuff by falling in line and defending Omar. Politicians in Syria, Iran, and North Korea no doubt took notice.

The dilemma for Jewish people is they are mostly white and middle-class, and that’s a losing hand in the intersectionality sweepstakes when you are up against a black, Muslim, woman immigrant who, we are told, has experiences that are “more personal” than those of children of Holocaust survivors.

The question for Jewish voters is: will they be “good Bolsheviks” and support the party line wherever it may lead or will they jump ship and vote Republican?

For now, the Republicans should follow Napoleon’s advice and not interfere when the enemy is doing something stupid. In the future, the GOP might profitably bear down on the seams between Jewish voters and the emerging new Democratic party. David Duke’s endorsement of Ilhan Omar as “the most important member of the US Congress” opens up almost unlimited messaging and outreach opportunities for the GOP.

Anti-Semitism is the reliable symptom of a society (or political party) under stress, and its current iteration has been fronted by the socialists calling themselves Democrats, freshman Representatives Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who now represent the most energetic wing of the Democratic party.

Before the 2018 House election, Omar said she opposed the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. But, like another prominent Democrat not so long ago, “she was against it before she was for it.” When she ‘fessed up to supporting BDS it left her Jewish supporters grappling with the bait-and-switch, though some hope “to be able to have a dialogue.” Idiot, meet useful.

Some Democrats may calculate they can afford to ignore the Jewish vote as most Jews live in urban districts that are safely Democratic, younger Jews are more likely to describe themselves as “atheist, agnostic or having no particular religion,” and the overall population is aging.

Republicans also have some political calculations: is the Jewish vote “sticky” and not easily harvested with the limited time and money available? should the GOP instead focus its outreach to blacks, Hispanics and Asians? A rhetorical and policy attack on anti-Semitism may appeal to a broader public and at less cost than the labor-intensive door-knocking that may be needed to appeal to individual Jewish voters.

An opportunity for Republicans may be to amplify stresses between concerned Jewish voters and the Democrat party. In the words of a smart political guy, the GOP goal should be to ensure Jewish voters “vote for our guy, or stay home.”

Very soon Jewish voters may find themselves in no man’s land: under attack by the party they call home, but not worth the candle for the GOP.

The Democrats’ refusal to denounce anti-Semitism and banish its promoters may be creating a bloc of disaffected voters. That’s bad for all of us, but it might help the GOP in 2020. Democratic anti-Semitism will persist past November 2020, so the GOP’s challenge will be to reap the benefits of it, and snuff it out in time.

James Durso (@James_Durso) served as a U.S. Navy officer for 20 years specializing in logistics and security assistance. His overseas military postings were in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and he served in Iraq as a civilian transport advisor with the Coalition Provisional Authority. He was a professional staff member at the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is presently managing director of Corsair LLC, a consulting firm specializing in project management and marketing support in the Middle East and Central Asia.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Source: The Daily Caller

President Donald Trump said on Friday he would be disappointed if Pyongyang were to resume weapons testing and reiterated his belief in his good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un despite the collapse last week of their second summit.

"I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we'll see what happens," Trump told reporters. "I would be very disappointed if I saw testing."

Trump's comments came after two U.S. think tanks and Seoul's spy agency said this week that North Korea was rebuilding a rocket launch site at Sohae in the west of the country.

There have also been reports from South Korea's intelligence service of new activity at a factory at Sanumdong near Pyongyang that produced North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

On Friday, U.S. National Public Radio quoted experts from California's Middlebury Institute of International Studies as saying that satellite images of Sanumdong taken on Feb. 22 and on Friday suggested North Korea could be preparing to launch a missile or a space rocket.

One of the experts, Jeffrey Lewis, told Reuters the activity at the two sites was "probably connected." NPR said the Feb. 22 photos showed cars, trucks, rail cars and two cranes at Sanumdong, while in those taken on Friday, the activity had died down and one of the cranes had disappeared.

Other experts, including Joel Wit at 38 North and Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies considered the conclusion speculative.

"In the past there have been multiple reports about activity at this place that turned out to be false alarms," Wit said, referring to Sanumdong. "It could either be preparation for an eventual launch or not."

The White House, State Department and Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

North Korea has frozen nuclear and missile testing since 2017, and Trump has pointed to this as a positive outcome from nearly a year of high-level engagement with North Korea.

Sohae has been used in the past to test missile engines and to launch rockets that U.S. officials say have helped development of North Korea's weapons programs. A senior U.S. State Department official said on Thursday that any launch from there would be "inconsistent" with North Korean commitments.

Kim pledged at a first summit with Trump in Singapore in June that the engine test site and launch platform at Sohae would be dismantled. He repeated the pledge in a summit with the South Korean president in September.

Trump said he thought his and the U.S. relationship with Kim and North Korea was "a very good one."

"I think it remains good," he said.

SUMMIT COLLAPSE

Trump has been eager for a big foreign policy win on North Korea which has eluded his predecessors for decades and has repeatedly stressed his good relationship with Kim.

He went as far late last year as saying that they "fell in love," but the bonhomie has failed to bridge the wide gap between the two sides and a second summit between them collapsed last week in Vietnam over differences on U.S. demands for Kim to give up his nuclear weapons and North Korea's demands for sanctions relief.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and other U.S. officials have sought to play down the developments spotted at Sohae, although Trump on Thursday called recent North Korean activity "disappointing."

The senior State Department official who briefed reporters in Washington on Thursday said he would "not necessarily share the conclusion" of the think tanks that the Sohae site was operational again, but said any use of it would be seen as "backsliding" on commitments to Trump.

Pyongyang has used Sohae to launch satellites into space since 2011, and one such launch in April 2012 killed off an Obama administration deal for a freeze in North Korean nuclear and missile testing in return for food aid.

North Korean state media acknowledged the fruitless Hanoi summit for the first time on Friday, saying people were blaming the United States for the lack of an agreement.

"The public at home and abroad that had hoped for success and good results from the second … summit in Hanoi are feeling regretful, blaming the U.S. for the summit that ended without an agreement," its Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

The paper directed fiery rhetoric against Japan, accusing it of being "desperate to interrupt" relations between Pyongyang and Washington and "applauding" the breakdown of the summit.

Washington has said it is open to more talks with North Korea, but it has rejected an incremental approach to negotiations sought by Pyongyang and it remains unclear when the two sides might meet again.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful he would send a delegation to North Korea for more talks in the next couple of weeks, but had received "no commitment yet."

The senior State Department official who briefed reporters on Thursday declined to say whether there had been direct contact between the sides since the summit. He said Washington was keen to resume talks as soon as possible, but North Korea's negotiators needed to be given more latitude.

"There will necessarily need to be a period of reflection here. Both sides are going to have to digest the outcome to the summit," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Fundamentally, where we really need to see the progress, and we need to see it soon, is on meaningful and verifiable steps on denuclearization. That's our goal and that's how we see these negotiations picking up momentum."

The official said complete denuclearization was the condition for North Korea's integration into the global economy, a transformed relationship with the United States and a permanent peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

Bolton, who has argued for a tough approach to North Korea, said this week that Trump was open to more talks, but also warned of tougher sanctions if North Korea did not denuclearize.

Source: NewsMax

FILE PHOTO: Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea Quintana attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva
FILE PHOTO: Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana attends a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

March 8, 2019

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Despite actively pursuing diplomacy on its nuclear program, North Korea continues to quash basic freedoms, maintaining political prison camps and strict surveillance of its citizens, a United Nations human rights investigator said on Friday.

“With the positive developments in the past year 2018, it is all the more regrettable that the serious human rights situation on the ground in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains unchanged,” Tomas Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in the DPRK, said in his latest report.

North Korea has frozen its nuclear and missile testing since 2017 and held several summits with the United States and South Korea in the past year, emerging from decades of isolation.

Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump held a second meeting last week, but their talks in Vietnam broke up with no agreement. Trump said on Friday he would be disappointed if North Korea were to resume weapons testing and reiterated his belief in his good relationship with Kim.

Ojea Quintana said that he hoped the summit’s abrupt end “doesn’t compromise the peaceful environment for dialogue that all the parties have been working for during 2018”.

The U.N. expert said he “continues to receive reports of the existence of the political prison camps where people are being sent without due process. Torture and ill-treatment reportedly remain widespread and systematic in detention facilities.”

Surveillance and close monitoring of all citizens, and other severe restrictions such as on freedom of movement remain intact, Ojea Quintana said, adding the penal system denies due process and a guarantee of fair trial.

He said he had contacted China last year about 18 North Koreans who had left the country and been detained there, amid concerns they would be forcibly returned to their homeland where other defectors have been allegedly subjected to torture and sexual violence.

However, Ojea Quintana also called for an easing of sanctions imposed on North Korea for its nuclear activities, saying they had led to “significant delays and disruption” in the humanitarian aid effort. Some 10.3 million people or 41 per cent of the population lack sufficient food, he said.

In a landmark 2014 report, U.N. investigators said that 80,000 to 120,000 people were thought to be held in camps in North Korea. It documented torture and other violations, saying they could amount to crimes against humanity.

Ojea Quintana said the restrictions and fear of authorities and surveillance is so deeply ingrained in North Korean society that one of the escapees whom he met in Seoul during a recent visit concluded: “The whole country is a prison”.

Han Tae Song, North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, told the Human Rights Council on Thursday that his country is “committed to genuine dialogue and cooperation for the promotion and protection of human rights”.

“We also reject any groundless accusations parroted by some delegations as they are politically motivated in pursuit of ulterior purposes rather than human rights,” Han said.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary for President Donald Trump, said in a Fox News segment Feb. 27 that North Korea tested a missile every 24 days under President Barack Obama.

“Let me just draw the contrast. During the Obama years, every 24 days on average we saw a missile to get tested, fired from North Korea. Since President Trump’s taken office, it’s been 457-plus days,” Spicer said.

Verdict: False

Depending on the database, the regime tested either 74 or 85 missiles from 2009 through 2016, corresponding to one missile test an average of every 39 or 34 days under Obama. There were no known tests in 2010 or 2011.

No missile tests have been recorded in over 457 days under Trump, although the databases report that the regime did test either 20 or 24 missiles during Trump’s first year in office – an average of about one missile tested every 18 or 15 days.

Fact Check:

Spicer, a senior advisor for the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, compared the frequency of North Korean missile tests under Trump and Obama as evidence that Trump is making progress on North Korean diplomacy. “This president is getting results for the American people, for the peninsula, for the region and for our world,” he said.

Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach a nuclear disarmament deal at the second summit between the two leaders last week in Vietnam.

It is unclear where Spicer got his figures. He did not respond to requests for comment.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) keep databases of North Korean missile tests that show Spicer overstated the frequency of missile tests under Obama.

CSIS counts 85 missile tests from Jan. 20, 2009 to Jan. 20, 2017, which averages out to about one launch every 34 days. MIIS recorded 74 missile tests over the same period – about one missile tested every 39 days on average.

The CSIS and MIIS tallies vary in part due to differences in methodology. MIIS does not count missiles under a 300 kilometer range, for instance, while CSIS did.

“Missile testing behavior varied considerably over Obama’s time in office,” Shea Cotton, a research associate at MIIS, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “There was a burst in testing when he first took office when North Korea shot off a set of missiles in July 2009.”

There were no missile tests in 2010 or 2011. Previous North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died in December 2011, and the regime saw a gradual build up in tests after his son Kim Jong Un assumed power.

“I would argue that Kim Jong Un assuming power had more of an impact than Obama did in changing North Korea’s missile testing behavior we saw between Obama’s first and second term,” Cotton said.

North Korea often tested multiple missiles on the same day – there were 41 days where North Korea tested missiles from 2009 through 2016, according to MIIS, which corresponds to an average of one set of missile tests every 71 days under Obama.

Ian Williams, a fellow and deputy director of the missile defense project at CSIS, thought that the best measure of North Korean missile tests is the raw number of North Korean launches, whether successful or unsuccessful. “They learn a lot from failure, and Pyongyang’s persistence in the face of failure shows that they are committed to building a real, no-kidding strike capability, not just a propaganda effort or bargaining chip,” he told TheDCNF in an email.

Spicer may have been thinking of tests launched only in certain years under Obama. A meme posted on Facebook pages “President Donald Trump Fan Club” and “Donald Trump Is My President” Feb. 28 made a similar, more specific claim.

“During Obama’s last year in office there were missile launches every 24 days,” it said. Under Trump, “457 days without a missile launch.”

The meme understates the frequency of North Korean missile tests when considering all launches. CSIS counts 21 missiles tested in 2016, which averages to one missile tested every 17 days. MIIS counts 24 missiles tested in 2016, an average of one every 15 days.

When considering the number of test dates rather than the number of missile tests, the meme’s claim is closer. MIIS reported 16 test dates in 2016, or one test every 23 days on average.

The “President Trump Fan Club” and “Donald Trump Is My President” pages, as well as the website I Love My Freedom, which was cited in the meme, did not respond to inquiries about the source of the figure.

Spicer and the meme correctly noted that North Korea has not tested a missile in over 457 days. The regime’s last reported missile test was on Nov. 29, 2017 North Korean local time – still Nov. 28, 2017 in the U.S.

The regime did, however, test many missiles in 2017. “During Trump’s first year in office North Korea didn’t exactly dial it back either with missile testing,” Cotton said.

MIIS counted 20 missiles tested in 2017, an average of about one every 18 days, while CSIS lists 24 missile tests in 2017, for an average of one every 15 days.

“I’d also argue that one of the big reasons North Korea stopped testing was because they got to their goal which was developing a missile that could strike anywhere in the U.S.,” Cotton said. “South Korea’s President Moon Jae In, working to try and broker a dialogue between Trump and Kim during the Olympics at the start of 2018 and Trump taking him up on that has almost certainly contributed to the duration of this gap in testing.”

Williams echoed similar skepticism about the impact that Trump has had on North Korean missile testing frequency. “[There are] a lot factors that go into when North Korea test fires missiles, and U.S. foreign policy is only one part of that,” he said.

“It’s silly and counterproductive to politicize the frequency of North Korean missile launches,” Williams continued. “It’s also dangerous politically, because North Korea will eventually resume testing. And just like the stock market, if you take credit for it going up, you also own it when it goes down.”

Follow Emily on Twitter: @emilyelarsen

Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected]

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary for President Donald Trump, said in a Fox News segment Feb. 27 that North Korea tested a missile every 24 days under President Barack Obama.

“Let me just draw the contrast. During the Obama years, every 24 days on average we saw a missile to get tested, fired from North Korea. Since President Trump’s taken office, it’s been 457-plus days,” Spicer said.

Verdict: False

Depending on the database, the regime tested either 74 or 85 missiles from 2009 through 2016, corresponding to one missile test an average of every 39 or 34 days under Obama. There were no known tests in 2010 or 2011.

No missile tests have been recorded in over 457 days under Trump, although the databases report that the regime did test either 20 or 24 missiles during Trump’s first year in office – an average of about one missile tested every 18 or 15 days.

Fact Check:

Spicer, a senior advisor for the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, compared the frequency of North Korean missile tests under Trump and Obama as evidence that Trump is making progress on North Korean diplomacy. “This president is getting results for the American people, for the peninsula, for the region and for our world,” he said.

Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to reach a nuclear disarmament deal at the second summit between the two leaders last week in Vietnam.

It is unclear where Spicer got his figures. He did not respond to requests for comment.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) keep databases of North Korean missile tests that show Spicer overstated the frequency of missile tests under Obama.

CSIS counts 85 missile tests from Jan. 20, 2009 to Jan. 20, 2017, which averages out to about one launch every 34 days. MIIS recorded 74 missile tests over the same period – about one missile tested every 39 days on average.

The CSIS and MIIS tallies vary in part due to differences in methodology. MIIS does not count missiles under a 300 kilometer range, for instance, while CSIS did.

“Missile testing behavior varied considerably over Obama’s time in office,” Shea Cotton, a research associate at MIIS, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “There was a burst in testing when he first took office when North Korea shot off a set of missiles in July 2009.”

There were no missile tests in 2010 or 2011. Previous North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died in December 2011, and the regime saw a gradual build up in tests after his son Kim Jong Un assumed power.

“I would argue that Kim Jong Un assuming power had more of an impact than Obama did in changing North Korea’s missile testing behavior we saw between Obama’s first and second term,” Cotton said.

North Korea often tested multiple missiles on the same day – there were 41 days where North Korea tested missiles from 2009 through 2016, according to MIIS, which corresponds to an average of one set of missile tests every 71 days under Obama.

Ian Williams, a fellow and deputy director of the missile defense project at CSIS, thought that the best measure of North Korean missile tests is the raw number of North Korean launches, whether successful or unsuccessful. “They learn a lot from failure, and Pyongyang’s persistence in the face of failure shows that they are committed to building a real, no-kidding strike capability, not just a propaganda effort or bargaining chip,” he told TheDCNF in an email.

Spicer may have been thinking of tests launched only in certain years under Obama. A meme posted on Facebook pages “President Donald Trump Fan Club” and “Donald Trump Is My President” Feb. 28 made a similar, more specific claim.

“During Obama’s last year in office there were missile launches every 24 days,” it said. Under Trump, “457 days without a missile launch.”

The meme understates the frequency of North Korean missile tests when considering all launches. CSIS counts 21 missiles tested in 2016, which averages to one missile tested every 17 days. MIIS counts 24 missiles tested in 2016, an average of one every 15 days.

When considering the number of test dates rather than the number of missile tests, the meme’s claim is closer. MIIS reported 16 test dates in 2016, or one test every 23 days on average.

The “President Trump Fan Club” and “Donald Trump Is My President” pages, as well as the website I Love My Freedom, which was cited in the meme, did not respond to inquiries about the source of the figure.

Spicer and the meme correctly noted that North Korea has not tested a missile in over 457 days. The regime’s last reported missile test was on Nov. 29, 2017 North Korean local time – still Nov. 28, 2017 in the U.S.

The regime did, however, test many missiles in 2017. “During Trump’s first year in office North Korea didn’t exactly dial it back either with missile testing,” Cotton said.

MIIS counted 20 missiles tested in 2017, an average of about one every 18 days, while CSIS lists 24 missile tests in 2017, for an average of one every 15 days.

“I’d also argue that one of the big reasons North Korea stopped testing was because they got to their goal which was developing a missile that could strike anywhere in the U.S.,” Cotton said. “South Korea’s President Moon Jae In, working to try and broker a dialogue between Trump and Kim during the Olympics at the start of 2018 and Trump taking him up on that has almost certainly contributed to the duration of this gap in testing.”

Williams echoed similar skepticism about the impact that Trump has had on North Korean missile testing frequency. “[There are] a lot factors that go into when North Korea test fires missiles, and U.S. foreign policy is only one part of that,” he said.

“It’s silly and counterproductive to politicize the frequency of North Korean missile launches,” Williams continued. “It’s also dangerous politically, because North Korea will eventually resume testing. And just like the stock market, if you take credit for it going up, you also own it when it goes down.”

Follow Emily on Twitter: @emilyelarsen

Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected]

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].

Source: The Daily Caller

"Constant pressure" on North Korea and Chairman Kim Jong Un is the only thing that will work if the country is to ever denuclearize, Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., said Friday while calling for the United States to keep full-scale military exercises active in South Korea.

"I didn't trust North Korea then; I don't trust him [Kim] now," Rep. King told Fox News' "America's Newsroom," when asked what he thought the country and its leaders would do after the Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and Kim ended without an agreement.

"We have to assume they are going to have to cheat, assume they keep their nuclear weapons, no matter what," King continued, adding it is important for the United States to keep its sanctions on and keep some of its military activity active in South Korea.

"I think the military exercises are important because, again, really all Kim Jong Un is like an organized crime leader who runs an organized crime family, and he calls it North Korea," King said. "There is no reason for him to be there other than to have nuclear weapons. We have to keep that in mind in dealing with him."

It is important to make Kim realize reaching a deal means much more to him than it does the United States, King continued.

"We can survive; he cannot," King said. "We also have to be careful not to scare away our allies. Japan has to know we will be there and stay there, Taiwan, and South Korea."

Trump should also continue pressure on China, and not try to get a quick deal, King said.

Source: NewsMax

U.S. President Trump departs for Alabama from the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts while talking to reporters as he departs to visit storm-hit areas of Alabama from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

March 8, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he would be disappointed if North Korea were to resume weapons testing, and reiterated that he had a good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump made the remarks to reporters at the White House.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Lisa Lambert; Writing Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Source: OANN

South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule, in central Seoul
South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule, in central Seoul, South Korea, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

March 8, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in has replaced his unification minister who played a major role in last year’s detente with the North, his office said on Friday, and named a longtime confidant to lead Moon’s drive for “a new Korean peninsula”.

Kim Yeon-chul, a pro-engagement scholar who heads the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification, will replace Cho Myoung-gyon pending a confirmation hearing.

“He’s the right man who can actively embody the president’s vision for a new Korean peninsula, a new peace and cooperation community, by carrying out the Unification Ministry’s main policy tasks without a hitch and implementing inter-Korean agreements in a speedy manner,” Moon’s spokesman told a news briefing.

The change was part of Moon’s largest cabinet reshuffle since taking office in 2017, with new ministers for the interior, land and transportation, culture and sport, oceans and fisheries, science and technology, and small and medium enterprises.

The shake-up allows incumbent aides to run in parliamentary elections next year, analysts said, and turns a page for an administration facing a sluggish economy and sagging popularity.

The removal of Cho, who has yet to say if he will enter politics, comes a week after the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to narrow their differences on dismantling the North’s nuclear program and U.S. willingness to ease sanctions.

The failed summit was a blow for Moon, who had hoped U.S. sanctions relief would boost South-North projects including a factory park, tourism zone and railway network.

Ahead of the Hanoi summit, a rift opened within Moon’s administration over how to advance Korean ties without undercutting international sanctions and the alliance with the United States.

Some top aides, including national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, had pushed for the economic projects to go ahead. Cho and other aides favored sticking to Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign to force the North’s denuclearization.

Cho’s advocacy of strict sanctions enforcement surprised – and drew complaints from – many officials.

The appointment of Kim Yeon-chul, a staunch backer of Korean reconciliation, may further improve ties with the North, officials said.

It could also signal deeper divisions within Moon’s government, some analysts said, and fuel U.S. concerns that the South may be moving too quickly with the North.

Kim, 55, is a North Korea studies professor and adviser to a previous administration in which Moon also served.

More recently, he advised Moon’s office on Korean summits before moving to head the think tank affiliated with the Unification Ministry.

Kim was a vocal critic of the 2016 decision to close the Kaesong factory after Seoul’s then-conservative government said the North had diverted wages paid to its workers by South Korean firms to bankroll its weapons programs.

A private panel appointed by the Unification Ministry under Moon said there was no evidence to back up that charge, and Kim has since called for the factory to reopen.

The factory, alongside a railway and tourism project, are important parts of Moon’s initiative to build a pan-peninsula economic community which he has said will also benefit South Korea’s economy.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: North Korean ICBMs on parade
FILE PHOTO: Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high-ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo

March 8, 2019

By David Brunnstrom and Hyonhee Shin

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is open to additional talks with Pyongyang over denuclearization, his national security adviser said on Thursday, despite reports that North Korea is reactivating parts of its missile program.

New activity has been detected at a factory that produced North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo and Donga Ilbo newspapers reported, citing lawmakers briefed by the National Intelligence Service.

This week, two U.S. think tanks and Seoul’s spy agency said North Korea was rebuilding its Sohae rocket launch site, prompting Trump to say he would be “very, very disappointed” in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if it were true. The think tanks said on Thursday that they believed the launch site was operational again.

Asked on Thursday if he was disappointed about recent North Korean activity, Trump told reporters: “It’s disappointing,” while adding without elaborating: “We’ll see. We’ll let you know in about a year.”

The reports of North Korean activity raise more questions about the future of the dialogue Trump has pursued with Kim after a second summit between them broke down in Vietnam last week.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has argued for a tough approach to North Korea, said Trump was still open to more talks with the country.

“The president’s obviously open to talking again. We’ll see when that might be scheduled or how it might work out,” he told Fox News, adding it was too soon to make a determination on the reports of the North Korean activities.

“We’re going to study the situation carefully. As the president said, it would be very, very disappointing if they were taking this direction.”

The Vietnam summit on Feb. 27-28 collapsed over differences about how far North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear program and the degree of U.S. willingness to ease economic sanctions.

Trump, eager for a big foreign policy win on North Korea, which has eluded his predecessors for decades, has repeatedly stressed his good relationship with Kim. He went as far late last year as saying they “fell in love,” but the bonhomie has failed so far to bridge the wide gap between the two sides.

“NO COMMITMENT YET”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful he would send a delegation to North Korea for more talks in the next couple of weeks, but that he had received “no commitment yet.”

A senior State Department official told reporters on Thursday that Washington was keen to resume talks as soon as possible, but North Korea’s negotiators needed to be given more latitude than they were ahead of the summit.

He said no one in the U.S. administration advocated the incremental approach that North Korea has been seeking and the condition for its integration into the global economy, a transformed relationship with the United States and a permanent peace regime, was complete denuclearization.

“Fundamentally, where we really need to see the progress, and we need to see it soon, is on meaningful and verifiable steps on denuclearization. That’s our goal and that’s how we see these negotiations picking up momentum.”

The official, who did not want to be identified, said the U.S. side still saw North Korea’s complete denuclearization as achievable within Trump’s current term, which ends in January 2021.

While the official said he would “not necessarily share the conclusion” that the Sohae site was operational again, any use of it would be seen as “backsliding” on commitments to Trump.

“We are watching in real-time developments at Sohae and we will definitely be seeking clarification on the purposes of that,” he said.

MISSILE FACTORY

South Korean spy chief Suh Hoon told lawmakers in Seoul this week that cargo vehicles were spotted moving around a North Korean ICBM factory at Sanumdong recently, the JoongAng Ilbo reported.

The paper also quoted Suh as saying North Korea had continued to run its uranium enrichment facility at the main Yongbyon nuclear complex after Trump and Kim’s first summit in Singapore last June.

The Sanumdong factory produced the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which can fly more than 13,000 km (8,080 miles). After a test flight in 2017, North Korea declared the completion of its “state nuclear force” before pursuing talks with South Korea and the United States last year.

South Korea’s presidential office and defense ministry declined to confirm the Sanumdong reports and the U.S. State Department said it could not comment on intelligence matters.

Separately, Washington’s 38 North and Center for Strategic and International Studies think tanks reported on Thursday that North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station, which Kim pledged in Singapore to dismantle, appeared to be operational again after rebuilding work that began days before the Hanoi summit.

“The rebuilding activities at Sohae demonstrate how quickly North Korea can easily render reversible any steps taken towards scrapping its Weapons of Mass Destruction program with little hesitation,” CSIS said.

It called the action “an affront” to Trump’s diplomatic strategy that showed North Korean pique at his refusal to lift sanctions.

SANCTIONS WARNING

Some analysts see the work as aimed at pressing Washington to agree to a deal, rather than as a definite move to resume tests.

A U.S. government source, who did not want to be identified, said North Korea’s plan in rebuilding the site could have been to offer a demonstration of good faith by conspicuously stopping again if a summit pact was struck, while furnishing a sign of defiance or resolve if the meeting failed.

38 North said photos from Wednesday showed a rail-mounted transfer building used to move rockets at the site was complete, cranes had been removed from the launch pad and the transfer building moved to the end of the pad.

“But we don’t draw any conclusions from that besides they are restoring the facility,” Joel Wit of 38 North told Reuters. “There is no evidence to suggest anything more than that.”

On Wednesday, Bolton warned of new sanctions if North Korea did not scrap its weapons program.

Despite his sanctions talk, there have been signs across Asia that the U.S. “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign against North Korea has sprung leaks.

In a new breach, three South Korean companies were found to have brought in more than 13,000 tons of North Korean coal, worth 2.1 billion won ($2 million) since 2017, South Korea said.

North Korean media have given conflicting signals on U.S. relations, while appearing to target Bolton as a spoiler.

Its state television aired a 78-minute documentary late on Wednesday showing a cordial mood between Trump and Kim as the Hanoi summit ended, indicating Pyongyang was not about to walk away from negotiations, experts say.

It also showed a stone-faced Bolton during a meeting in Hanoi, while Trump and other U.S. participants were all smiles.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, said on Friday that a “resolution could not be reached overnight”.

“All parties should have reasonable expectations on this,” Wang told a news briefing.

China is North Korea’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, and has suggested easing U.N. sanctions on North Korea as a way to reward it for its improved behavior.

In a return to a more usual strident tone, North Korea’s KCNA news agency criticized new small-scale military exercises that the United States and South Korea plan to hold instead of a large-scale spring exercise they have called off.

It said the drills would be a “violent violation” of agreements with the United States and South Korea, although Seoul’s defense ministry said the drills are defensive in nature.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, David Brunnstrom and Steve Holland in Washington; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, David Alexander and Tim Ahmann in Washington, Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee in Seoul, and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Alistair Bell and James Dalgleish)

Source: OANN

Former President Jimmy Carter has reportedly offered to fly to North Korea to help the Trump administration continue its nuclear weapons talks with the reclusive nation.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., told Politico he spoke with Carter on Thursday and was told of the offer.

The 94-year-old Carter served one term as president from 1977-1981. He has taken on several diplomatic roles since, including visiting North Korea in 1994 — at the direction of then-Present Bill Clinton — to hold talks with the country's leader Kim Il Sung. Kim, who died a month after Carter's visit, is the grandfather of current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Carter also traveled to North Korea in 2010 to negotiate the release of an American being held there.

"The fact that Carter is willing to engage Kim Jong Un is a good thing," Khanna told Politico.

President Donald Trump met with Kim last June and again last week in an effort to convince the North Koreans to abandon their nuclear weapons program. The most recent talks, which took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended in a stalemate when the two sides could not agree on a resolution.

Source: NewsMax

Derek Hunter | Contributor

On the show Wednesday, we get into all the news of the day — the North Korea summit, Michael Cohen drama, Sen. Cory Booker declares the American Dream dead, a Democrat compares Border Patrol to Nazis, Louie Gohmert rocks, and men make the strongest women. We get to all if it on today’s show.

Listen to the show:

The public hearing in Congress today featuring Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for President Donald Trump facing a long prison term for lying to investigators and tax evasion, promises to have some fireworks. Democrats are looking to embarrass the president while he’s overseas and Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, is hinting that he’s going to ask about Cohen’s faithfulness to his wife. It’s going to be quite a show either way.

The House voted to override the president’s national emergency declaration on the southern border, soon the Senate will likely follow suit. None of it matters, it’s not going to change anything because the president will veto it and Congress doesn’t have the vote to override that veto. It’s all a show.

New Jersey Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker thinks the American Dream is dead, that the United States is not the place you want to be born if you aren’t born rich because people can no longer get ahead. The fix, he says, is of course more government programs.

Democratic Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania compared U.S. Border Patrol to Nazis because reality doesn’t matter anymore to the left. We have the audio.

Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert highlighted the hypocrisy of Democrats when, at a hearing on climate change, what they say is the most important issue in all of human history, only 2 Democrats bothered to show up. Gohmert used House rules to call for the meeting to be adjourned immediately after it began and carried the vote. The audio is hilarious, you have to hear it to believe it.

There is a force dominating women’s sports in colleges and high schools across the country. That force is men. You’d think the “party of science” wouldn’t be rejecting biology like they are.

Help spread the word about The Daily Daily Caller Podcast. Please take a minute to rate and review on iTunes, share on social media and be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode:

The Daily Daily Caller Podcast is a daily look and mocking of the news from a conservative perspective. Hosted by Derek Hunter, it is available in audio form Monday-Thursday and will have a video option on Fridays.

Derek Hunter is a columnist and contributing editor for The Daily Caller and author of “Outrage, INC: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood” from HarperCollins, availablenowPick Up a copy, or several copies, here. Send compliments and complaints to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @derekahunter.

Source: The Daily Caller

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump kicked off his second summit Wednesday evening local time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Trump kicked off the summit in similar fashion with a ceremonial handshake between the two leaders. Trump briefly took questions while shaking the North Korean leader’s hand, saying of the summit, “I think it’ll be very successful” and that the two leaders have “a great relationship.”

The president was asked whether he would officially declare an end to the Korean War to which he replied, “we’ll see” and reaffirmed his commitment to making the goal of the summit denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.

Shortly afterwards, the two leaders were seen by reporters again seated across from each other with respective translators, when Kim Jong Un spoke for the first time. The North Korean leader expressed optimism about the summit’s beginning and some regret for “misunderstandings” in the interim 251 days since they last met in Singapore. He added that “a lot of patience was needed.”  (RELATED: Here’s What Trump, Kim Jong Un Agreed Upon At Summit)

The president then noted his hope that the second summit would be more successful than the first and emphasized a point that he will likely raise time and time again during the summit; that North Korea has “tremendous economic potential” if it agrees to denuclearize.

Trump and Kim Jong Un were scheduled only for a 20-minute initial 1-on-1 meeting. After they will be joining an expanded bi-lateral working dinner, which is scheduled to last 90 minutes. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday that Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will accompany the president.

The summit between the two leaders will then continue Thursday, though the White House has not yet released any other details. Trump mentioned briefly at the end of his second session with Kim Jong Un that a news conference would take place at the end, just as he did in Singapore.

Trump will seek to build upon his June 2018 summit with the North Korean leader where the two countries signed a memorandum agreeing in principle to begin a denuclearization process. The previous summit’s main achievement was securing a cooling period in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, which ratcheted up early in Trump’s presidential term.

White House officials say the president will now seek to secure some sort of concrete commitment from the North Korean government to begin a denuclearization process. Trump’s pitch to Kim Jong Un is that by agreeing to denuclearization the young leader can usher in a new extraordinary period of economic prosperity.

North Korea’s economy is currently hampered by some of the most strict international sanctions in the world, hindering its ability to trade in international markets and subjecting the country to an effective blockade from the community of nations.

Source: The Daily Caller

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met and shook hands in Vietnam amid the second international summit between the two leaders Wednesday.

The two world leaders greeted one another at approximately 6:29 pm local time in Hanoi, Vietnam ahead of a planned dinner, approaching one another from opposite sides of a staged area and meeting in the middle. The pair then shook hands in front of a group of U.S. and North Korean flags.

WATCH:

The handshake appeared to be firm but familiar, as the two men leaned in close to one another and Trump patted Kim’s back several times.

Kim initially appeared very grim. However, after a brief exchange with Trump, his face took on a wide smile. The pair appeared slightly confused as to where they were supposed to go after the photo-op.

Trump and Kim shook hands again later during a presser where each leader spoke briefly to reporters. The U.S. president initiated the second shake at the end of the presser and gently patted Kim on the hand as the two smiled.

WATCH:

Trump will be approaching the summit with the goal of reaching a denuclearization agreement with the North Korean leader after decades of tension between their respective countries. (RELATED: Here’s What Trump Hopes To Get Out Of Kim Jong Un)

Trump and Kim previously met in June 2018, where they discussed denuclearization and human rights.

Follow Amber on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

Amber Athey | White House Correspondent

President Donald Trump took a jab at Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal for embellishing his service record in Vietnam, as the president visits the country for the second summit between North Korea and the U.S.

In between trade meetings with the Vietnamese prime minister and preparations for a dinner with North Korean President Kim Jong Un, the president tweeted sharp criticism of the senator he nicknamed “Da Nang Dick.” Trump even alleged that he spoke of Blumenthal’s mischaracterizations with Vietnamese leaders.

“I have now spent more time in Vietnam than Da Nang Dick Blumenthal, the third rate Senator from Connecticut (how is Connecticut doing?),” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “His war stories of his heroism in Vietnam were a total fraud – he was never even there. We talked about it today with Vietnamese leaders!”

The New York Times reported in 2010 that Blumenthal had repeatedly made misstatements related to his service in U.S. Marine Corps Reserve that falsely implied he fought in the Vietnam War. Blumenthal apologized for not being “as clear or precise as I should have been about my service in the Marine Corps Reserves.” (RELATED: Trump Puts Sen. Blumenthal On Blast With Stolen Valor Reference)

The president first bestowed the “Da Nang” nickname on Blumenthal in October when the senator questioned the integrity of then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to serve on the Supreme Court.

Follow Amber on Twitter

Source: The Daily Caller

The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump passes bystanders on a road near the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi
The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump passes bystanders on a road near the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung Hoon

February 27, 2019

By Hyonhee Shin

HANOI (Reuters) – North Korean officials visited some high-tech factories and a tourist site in Vietnam on Wednesday, as their leader, Kim Jong Un, looks to shore up his sanctions-hit economy by copying the successes of another old U.S. foe.

President Donald Trump noted how Vietnam was thriving soon after he arrived late on Tuesday for his second summit with Kim, in Hanoi, a city the United States bombed during the Vietnam War.

As Trump tries to cajole Kim into taking steps towards full and verified denuclearization of North Korea, he has been highlighting its economic potential and the example Vietnam offers.

When Kim visited Singapore in June, for his first summit with Trump, he was impressed with its development and said he was eager to learn from its experiences.

Now he’s keen to learn from Vietnam.

A group of Kim’s foreign policy and economic aides, who accompanied him to Vietnam, traveled out of Hanoi on Wednesday to the industrial port town of Haiphong and the nearby UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay.

Kim, scheduled to begin talks with Trump in the evening, did not join the trip.

In Haiphong, the delegation toured the automaker Vinfast, smartphone firm VinSmart and VinEco, an agriculture and food supplier, all of the which are units of Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, Vingroup.

But the trip was not all work. Some members of the delegation snapped selfies on a boat ride on Ha Long Bay, one of Vietnam’s top tourist sites, South Korean broadcaster KBS reported.

Communist-ruled Vietnam has boomed since it launched reforms known as “doi moi” in the late 1980s.

“Vietnam’s ‘doi moi’ is an ideal model for North Korea, which wants to retain the one-party system while pursuing bold economic reforms to engineer growth,” said Cho Bong-hyun, a specialist in the North Korean economy at IBK Bank in Seoul.

Cho said Vietnam’s size, population, the state of its agriculture and its need for foreign capital made it a better model for North Korea to copy than China.

The North Korean team was led by Ri Su Yong, a former vice foreign minister and now vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party, and included for the first time top economic policymaker O Su Yong.

The inclusion of O, a former minister of electronics and vice minister of metals and machine building, in the delegation signals Kim’s hope to take a page from Vietnam’s book.

‘BETTER FIT’

Kim shifted his focus to the economy at a party congress last April, abandoning the parallel pursuit of nuclear weapons and economic development he had expounded since taking power in 2011.

While Vietnam’s model of reform is widely touted as the economic path for North Korea, Vietnam’s transformation has required political change and levels of individual freedoms that would require major reforms for the Kim family, which is afforded godlike status by state propaganda.

The delegation’s choice of the three factories and the tourist hot spot reflected Kim’s calls for “cutting-edge technologies” and a self-reliant economy.

Vinfast is Vietnam’s first fully fledged carmaker, while VinSmart rolled out its first locally made smartphone, Vsmart, last year.

Despite Vietnam’s new focus on high-tech industry, agriculture remains a major source of exports and driver of growth. VinEco promotes sustainable farming.

Ha Long Bay, dotted with steep-sided islands, attracted more than 12 million tourists last year, numbers Kim can only dream of.

North Korea is building tourist complexes in the east coast city of Wonsan and in the alpine town of Samjiyon near its famous Mount Paektu.

Kim’s late grandfather, Kim Il Sung, visited Ha Long Bay in 1964. On Wednesday, Vietnamese officials gave the visiting delegation pictures from that trip as a gift for Kim Jong Un, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper hailed Vietnam’s “big potential” and efforts to “diversify industrial structure” from the agriculture-dependent economy.

Yang Un-chul of the Sejong Institute in South Korea said if the North is ever going to fulfil its ambition to be an advanced socialist economy, it has to learn from business like the ones the delegation visited in Vietnam.

“North Korea would want to make better use of its good labor and nurture more sophisticated industries, and those sites have something to offer,” Yang said.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee, Jeongmin Kim and Wonil Lee in SEOUL; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: OANN

Policemen are seen near the Metropole Hotel ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi
Policemen are seen near the Metropole Hotel ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

February 27, 2019

By James Pearson

HANOI (Reuters) – More than a dozen prominent Vietnamese political activists say police have stepped up surveillance and prevented them from leaving their homes in Hanoi as the Vietnamese capital hosts a summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea.

Despite sweeping economic and social reforms in the Vietnam, the ruling Communist Party retains tight controls on media and does not tolerate criticism.

Hosting the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been seen as a public relations coup for Vietnam and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said security should be a top priority.

Hanoi has branded itself a “city for peace” for hosting the summit.

Nguyen Chi Tuyen, an activist known as Anh Chi, said security officials had been stationed outside his house for two days.

“They follow me everywhere I go and warn me that I may be detained if I cross the river into the (city) center,” he told Reuters on Wednesday.

Police told him they will guard his house until March 1 and not to take photos of them, he added.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump and Kim meet on Wednesday evening at Hanoi’s French-colonial-era Metropole Hotel for the start their second summit in less than a year, seeking to break a stalemate over the North’s nuclear weapons.

Dao Thu Hue, a Chinese teacher at a university in Hanoi known for her anti-communist protests, said police started restricting her movements on Tuesday evening. Her house is often sealed off during major events.

“This time they are tighter and very determined. They don’t say why they are blocking my house, only say ‘we are following orders’,” Hue said.

Bui Hang, an activist based in the southern city of Vung Tau, told Reuters someone had padlocked her door from the outside and glued it in place.

Some other activists said they managed to strike compromises with security officers.

“I have been under guard for several days but there is still room to negotiate,” said activist La Dung, speaking as he was riding on the back a local security officer’s motorbike on his way to play a game of tennis.

“They said tennis is OK, but other things is a no,” Dung laughed.

Activist Mai Phuong Thao, known as Thao Teresa, said she has been prevented from leaving her house since Monday.

Police looked into her house several times a day to see if she was there or to hear her voice, but she said she has her own way to leave the house when she needs to.

Singer and activist Mai Khoi posted a video of herself on Twitter sticking her middle finger up as Trump’s motorcade was passed on Tuesday night with a caption “Peace on you, Trump!”.

Last time Trump was in Vietnam in 2017, she held a poster that said “Piss on you Trump”.

She was locked inside her house for several hours after that protest.

(Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: OANN

It was a classic split-screen moment for the media.

Actually, it called for triple screens.

President Trump had landed in Vietnam for his summit with Kim Jong Un. This second meeting will put to the test whether North Korea actually plans to take any concrete steps toward giving up nuclear weapons, or whether its dictator is merely pursuing a strategy of deflection and delay. At stake: the potential elimination of one of the world’s premier nuclear threats, and a possible peace treaty more than six decades after the Korean War armistice.

But that was no match for Michael Cohen.

The president’s onetime lawyer had arrived in the Senate yesterday to testify behind closed doors, a prelude to his televised House hearing today.

REP. MATT GAETZ DEFENDS TWEET SUGGESTING MICHAEL COHEN HAS ‘GIRLFRIENDS’

MSNBC literally had a split-screen shot of Trump getting off the plane in Hanoi and Cohen walking down a Capitol Hill hallway.

CNN had a countdown clock up, 23 hours before his public testimony.

Cohen was already making news as the gist of his planned testimony was provided in advance to major news organizations. And that gave his story, well, a nuclear boost.

Cohen, The New York Times said, "is planning on portraying his onetime client in starkly negative terms when he testifies Wednesday before a House committee, and on describing what he says was Mr. Trump’s use of racist language, lies about his wealth and possible criminal conduct."

Cohen, The Washington Post said, "is expected to describe to lawmakers what he views as Trump’s ‘lies, racism and cheating,’ both as president and in private business, and will describe ‘personal, behind-the-scenes’ interactions he witnessed, a person familiar with the matter said."

And even while the president was halfway around the world, his White House was playing defense on the other story with a statement from Sarah Sanders:

SUBSCRIBE TO HOWIE’S MEDIA BUZZMETER PODCAST, A RIFF OF THE DAY’S HOTTEST STORIES

"Disgraced felon Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress and making other false statements. Sadly, he will go before Congress this week and we can expect more of the same. It’s laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies."

What’s fascinating about that statement is that it’s the Republican chairman of the Senate Intel committee, Richard Burr, who summoned Cohen. And Robert Mueller is relying on Cohen’s accounts as well.

Of course, Cohen’s credibility will come under withering assault, since he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. That’s part of the reason that Cohen will begin a three-year prison term in May, though he may hope his testimony prompts prosecutors to ask for a sentence reduction.

Cohen’s effort at rehabilitating his image is simple: I lied before to protect my client, but I deeply regret it and am so upset by Trump’s conduct as president that I’m going to tell all now.

RNC TELLS MICHAEL COHEN TO ‘HAVE FUN IN PRISON,’ AS GOP READIES WAR ROOM TO PUSH BACK ON TESTIMONY

Among his topics, according to the advance leaks: the infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer, and the president’s involvement in hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

His lawyer, Lanny Davis, told the Times that he will "back it up with documents."

But Cohen does not plan to answer questions about other aspects of the Russia investigation to avoid interfering with the Mueller probe.

What the Post described as the hope of Cohen’s allies — that "he could become this generation’s John Dean" — very much remains to be seen. Dean, unlike Cohen, worked in the White House and was an integral part of Richard Nixon’s Watergate coverup.

The third story unfolding on our screens yesterday was Nancy Pelosi’s plan for the House to vote on blocking Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border. So while he’s performing on the world stage, he could get whacked here at home for supposedly flouting the Constitution.

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By the time the House voted to block Trump 245-182, with 13 Republicans joining the Dems, the party-line tally was a foregone conclusion. There is a chance that the Senate will go along with four Republicans defecting (Thom Tillis said in a Post op-ed yesterday that he’d oppose the national emergency because "conservatives rightfully cried foul when President Barack Obama used executive action to completely bypass Congress"). Still, there undoubtedly wouldn’t be enough votes to overturn a veto.

Of course, the summit meeting with Kim hadn’t actually begun when these other stories were grabbing ink and airtime. But I can’t help thinking that most of the media are more interested in Trump’s former fixer and a potential Democratic slapdown than in this president’s diplomacy.

Source: Fox News Politics

FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt -/File Photo

February 27, 2019

By Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Looking for a quick way to stop North Korean missiles immediately after lift-off, the Pentagon is studying as a near-term option whether a group of F-35 fighter jets hovering around North Korean airspace could pick off freshly-launched rockets.

In its current form, the idea defies physics, missile defense experts say. It calls for interceptor missiles that fly so fast they could melt one expert said, and the only surefire way for U.S. military aircraft to defeat a missile with current technology would be to fly in hostile airspace, according to three experts interviewed by Reuters.

The idea, part of a six-month study launched last month, shows how the Pentagon is seeking ways to neutralize the threat posed by Pyongyang even as President Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this week in Vietnam in his effort to stop Kim’s nuclear program.

Concern over U.S. missile defenses has grown with the escalating threat from North Korea. Two years ago North Korea conducted about a dozen missile tests, some with multiple rockets, including the launch of a suspected inter-continental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S. mainland. They also tested a purported hydrogen bomb.

The F-35 plan under study would likely involve continuously flying a group of the stealthy jets within range of known North Korean missile sites. Once a missile is launched towards U.S. territory, the F-35’s advanced sensors would detect and then fire a special air-to-air missile before the Pyongyang projectile exits the atmosphere, the latest missile defense strategy and Pentagon leadership have said.

Military officials say the F-35 option is the one they want to test first because it could use existing military hardware and potentially be operational sooner than other strategies, and at a relatively low cost. At the same time Pentagon leadership says the tests may reveal a new interceptor is needed, or that the F-35 may only have a role in detecting the just-launched missile and not necessarily also shoot it down.

Speaking about that option after last month’s release of the defense strategy review, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin said: “we do think it could be both cost effective and … within the bounds of math and physics.”

Among other proposals included in the review was one involving lasers mounted on drones – proposed to stop missiles just after take-off in what is called the boost phase.

During this portion of the flight the missile is most vulnerable, flying at its slowest speed, easily detected by the heat from its engines, and incapable of evading interceptors as it accelerates to break out of the earth’s atmosphere.

MELTING MISSILES

Geography complicates the F-35 plan. Tom Karako, a missile defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington noted that jets lying in wait for a North Korean missile would in theory need to respect North Korean airspace. But remaining at such a distance could leave the jets too far from the missile launch to be effective.

Theodore Postol, a missile defense expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said even a modified air-to-air missile would be too slow to take out an intercontinental ballistic missile before it exited the atmosphere.

Air-to-air missiles like those made by Raytheon Co would only have an estimated 200 seconds to hit a ballistic missile before reaching an altitude where the air is too thin to maneuver. Given that it would take an F-35 approximately 50-60 seconds to detect, lock onto and launch an air-to-air missile, Postol said, the jet would need to be very close to the ballistic missile to take it out.

“If you are on top of it you can shoot it down,” the retired rocket scientist said. “But the odds are going to be very low that you can be on top of it.”

Even if a much faster and lighter version air-to-air missile was mounted in an F-35 jet, depending on the distance the weapon would have to fly so fast it would begin to melt, Postol added.

Despite the obstacles, the very fact that Pentagon was weighing such an option was significant, Karako said. “This shows a broader cultural shift.” Rather than some giant program, Karako said, the Pentagon is considering “a mission that is integrated into a broader mesh of tactical programs the Department of Defense can call on.”

Making it work will be a challenge, though.

“You would need to be very close to the launch site, within North Korea itself, said physicist Laura Grego, who studies missile defense at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Grego said that even if the air-to-air missile traveled at five times the speed of sound, the F-35 would need to be within about 50 miles of the missile, “probably closer, to be realistic.”

That gives a huge advantage to the stealthy F-35 which could get much closer to a possible launch area than a non-stealth aircraft.

“This is one of the advantages of the F-35,” said retired U.S. general David Deptula. He added that the radar-evading jets “can get in much closer to an adversary launch area than … a non-stealthy aircraft.”

That suggests that by using the F-35 made by Lockheed Martin, the U.S. could secretly monitor for ballistic missile launches with jets flying inside North Korean airspace.

(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Chris Sanders and Tomasz Janowski)

Source: OANN

A Boeing logo is pictured during EBACE in Geneva
A Boeing logo is pictured during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) at Geneva Airport, Switzerland May 28, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

February 27, 2019

By Jeff Mason and Khanh Vu

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnamese carriers VietJet and Bamboo Airways on Wednesday signed deals with Boeing Co to buy 110 planes worth more than $15 billion as the fast-growing companies look to expand their operations in Asia and beyond.

On the sidelines of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, VietJet signed a firm order to purchase 100 737 MAX planes worth $12.7 billion. The deal was made provisionally in July last year.

Bamboo signed a firm deal with Boeing to purchase 10 wide-bodied 787 planes worth $2.9 billion.

Bamboo, owned by property and leisure company FLC Group is also in talks to buy 25 narrow-bodied Boeing 737 planes, chairman Trinh Van Quyet told Reuters.

Bamboo, which made its first flights in January, had placed a provisional order last year for 20 Boeing 787 widebody jets worth $5.6 billion at list prices, and Wednesday’s deal is not part of that.

“The purchases are part of our strategy to expand our operations on the international market, including flying to the United States and Europe,” Quyet said.

He said Bamboo plans to launch its first non-stop flights to the United States late this year or early next year.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration declared Vietnam complied with international aviation standards, allowing Vietnamese carriers to fly to the United States for the first time and codeshare with U.S. airlines.

VietJet also finalised a $5.3 billion long-term engine support agreement with General Electric for the LEAP-1B engines in its fleet.

Trump and Kim Jong Un meet in Hanoi on Wednesday for their second summit, with Trump holding out Vietnam as a model of economic success that isolated North Korea could follow.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu and Jeff Mason in HANOI; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Noi Bai Airport for the US-DPRK summit in Hanoi
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Noi Bai Airport for the US-DPRK summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kham/Pool

February 27, 2019

(Reuters) –

0240 GMT: TRUMP SEES AWESOME POTENTIAL FOR NORTH KOREA

U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korea had “awesome” potential to thrive if it would denuclearize.

In a Twitter message ahead of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, Trump said: “Vietnam is thriving like few places on earth. North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearize.

“A great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un. We will know fairly soon.”

The White House said Trump would meet Kim at the French-colonial-era Metropole Hotel in Hanoi at 6:30 p.m. (1130 GMT) and have a 20-minute one-on-one conversation before a dinner scheduled to last just over an hour and a half. Both arrived in the Vietnamese capital on Tuesday.

(The Metropole hotel is seen ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam: https://tmsnrt.rs/2VmjrnF)

0212 GMT: EXPERTS URGE CAUTION ON PEACE DEAL

Analysts however cautioned that a peace deal between the two sides would not end the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Officials and experts have said the two leaders are likely to sign a peace declaration to symbolically end the 1950-53 Korean War. Other agreements could be to open liaison offices in each other’s countries and adopting denuclearization measures, such as allowing inspectors to observe the dismantlement of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, in exchange for a loosening of U.S. economic sanctions against Pyongyang.

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies said a peace deal needed to be carefully worked out, otherwise it could lead to regional security risks. “Peace between Washington and Pyongyang might contribute to an untimely withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea, encouraging dangerous misconceptions in Pyongyang,” it said.

Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia until 2017, said: “A peace treaty that leaves in place the arsenal of North Korean chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons that directly threaten Americans and our allies is not much of a peace treaty.

“The path to real peace on the Korean Peninsula begins with irreversible steps by North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons program.”

0215 GMT: MARKETS QUIET BUT MAY REACT POSITIVELY

Singapore’s DBS said news about details of denuclearization and the possible easing of North Korea sanctions would be taken positively by markets.

Nomura analyst Chetan Seth said in a note: “If we somehow see some progress towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, this could be another positive catalyst for Asian equities, particularly Korea.”

However, Nick Twidale, Sydney-based analyst at Rakuten Securities Australia, said although the summit is expected to be positive with regard to denuclearization, “little is expected in terms of market moving updates”.

(Graphic: Markets vs North Korea’s provocations – https://tmsnrt.rs/2BWJQkN)

0220 GMT: SUMMIT VENUE HOSTED CHAPLIN ON HIS HONEYMOON

Trump and Kim will meet on Wednesday at a storied French colonial-era hotel once used by the North Vietnamese government to house foreign guests during the Vietnam War.

The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has hosted dignitaries and celebrities from Charlie Chaplin on his honeymoon in 1936 to “Hanoi Jane” Fonda during her 1970s anti-war campaign and even Trump himself on a recent visit to the Vietnamese capital.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt stayed in the 118-year-old hotel in 2007. The Metropole also hosted Graham Greene, who wrote part of his seminal 1955 work, “The Quiet American” there, and numerous war correspondents during the 20-year-long Vietnam War that ended in 1975.

EXEMPTING S.KOREA FROM N.KOREA SANCTIONS A POSSIBLE CONCESSION – ANALYST

One possible concession that could be offered to North Korea at the summit is exempting South Korea from sanctions imposed on the North for pursuing nuclear weapons, said Brian Meyers, a professor at South Korea’s Dongseo University.

“I urge everyone to focus less on the Pyongyang-Washington axis and more on the Pyongyang-Seoul axis because that’s where the action is,” Meyers said on the Reuters Global Markets Forum.

He said the key issue to be decided at the summit was whether the North would agree to close or allow monitoring of its Yongbyon nuclear facility. “This would not necessarily solve the problem of the North’s existing nukes but it would still be a significant enough concession to enable the Americans to loosen sanctions,” Meyers said.

Kim Young-hwan, an analyst at KB Securities in Seoul, said there was unlikely to be a strong reaction in South Korean financial markets to any loosening of sanctions.

“Stocks with exposure to inter-Korean business exchanges will benefit and post some gains in the following months,” Kim said. “But their weighting on the broad index is just around 4 percent, and therefore, you can’t expect any significant rally for the whole market even if there’s a material agreement at the summit.”

(To see an interactive graphic on inter-Korean relations, click https://tmsnrt.rs/2KdXMcS)

Other summit stories:

Live: North Korea – Reuters social media blog https://www.reuters.com/live/north-korea

(Hanoi newsroom, Swati Pandey, David Brunnstrom, Karishma Singh, Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO - The Metropole hotel is seen ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi
FILE PHOTO – The Metropole hotel is seen ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

February 27, 2019

By Soyoung Kim and Mai Nguyen

HANOI (Reuters) – A storied French colonial-era hotel once used by the North Vietnamese government to house foreign guests during the Vietnam War is set to host U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as they meet for a second nuclear summit on Wednesday.

The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has hosted dignitaries and celebrities from Charlie Chaplin on his honeymoon in 1936 to “Hanoi Jane” Fonda during her 1970s anti-war campaign and even Trump himself on a recent visit to the Vietnamese capital.

The Metropole could begin a new chapter as a symbol of peace if Trump and Kim, as some officials in Seoul and Washington expect, formally declare an end to the last remaining Cold War conflict after their two-day summit.

The United States and North Korea are technically still at war, because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

“We hope Trump and Kim make some progress with their denuclearization and hopefully open North Korea to the outside world,” said Stephen Fries, a doctor from Colorado whose long-planned family trip was disrupted by preparations for the summit.

He was among two dozen Metropole guests touring an underground air raid bunker at the hotel used during the Vietnam War that was rediscovered by chance in 2011 while the hotel was renovating its poolside Bamboo bar.

Trump and Kim will meet at the Metropole at 6:30 pm (1130 GMT) on Wednesday, where the two will have a 20-minute one-on-one chat followed by a dinner with aides, the White House said.

“It’s about time there is a deal. Vietnam had been our enemy, now they are kind of a friend. I hope North Korea would become exactly like Vietnam, and maybe use it an example to follow for its own economic development,” Fries said.

SECRETS AND SECURITY

The elegant interior of the 118-year-old Metropole thronged with security personnel and hotel staff on the summit eve as final preparations were made. Nearby street corners were guarded by armed police, while security staff searched pot plants around the pool.

In a letter distributed ahead of the leaders’ arrival, the hotel’s general manager notified guests of the “very strict security measures” expected in the coming days.

All but one entrance to hotel will be blocked during the summit and a temporary checkpoint has been installed to screen guests, who need to show copies of their passports to gain access to the hotel.

Trump and Kim likely chose Metropole for its ability to keep secrets, Nguyen Dinh Thanh, former head of marketing at Metropole, told Reuters.

“When superstars come here, some journalists offered $2,000-$5,000 or more to staff to take a photo of that superstar, but that has never happened,” said Thanh.

“That shows Metropole has a tradition of keeping secrets as well as knowing how to treat VIP guests.”

CELEBRITIES AND CONTROVERSIES

Heads of state from European kings and British royals to U.S. and South American presidents have all chosen the Metropole as their Hanoi abode.

It has attracted celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in 2007, but perhaps its most iconic guest is American actress Jane Fonda, who stayed for two weeks in 1972 when visiting then-enemy territory.

A controversial photo of her sitting with North Vietnamese troops atop an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot at American planes earned her the nickname “Hanoi Jane”.

The Metropole also hosted Graham Greene, who wrote part of his seminal 1955 work, “The Quiet American” there, and numerous war correspondents during the 20-year-long Vietnam War that ended in 1975.

Trump, who stayed in the hotel on his last visit to Vietnam in 2017, has chosen the easier-to-secure JW Marriott hotel this time. Kim is staying at the Melia Hanoi hotel.

Despite its long history of hosting VIPs, the Metropole is not an ideal summit venue from a security point of view, said Le Van Cuong, who used to head the strategy institute of the Ministry of Public Security.

“Metropole is definitely more tricky to protect the leaders, especially because of the lack of space. In the protection job, space gives us advantages. Metropole sits right in the center of crowded streets, so it’s difficult to ensure security,” Cuong told Reuters.

“Singapore chose an isolated island and protection on such island is much easier, definitely easier than Metropole.”

Trump and Kim held their first summit at Singapore’s Capella hotel, a refurbished British Royal Artillery mess on the resort island of Sentosa.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim, James Pearson and Mai Nguyen in HANOI.; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

Source: OANN

Alec Schemmel | Contributor

While China has pushed for communist-based economic reforms in the East, Vietnam has chosen to approach the North Koreans at the joint summit with the U.S. in Hanoi with a different sentiment.

The summit is playing host to negotiations between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un regarding nuclear disarmament, which Kim has indicated could happen if American economic sanctions are lifted.

Improved diplomatic and economic relationships with the United States has developed Vietnam into an emerging Southeast Asian economy, Maj. Gen. Le Van Cuong, the former director of the Institute of Strategic Studies at the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security, told The New York Times

“The success of the Vietnamese economy is due to its decision to normalize relations with the United States in 1995,” Cuong said.

On a trip to Vietnam in July 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the president believed North Korea had the capacity to duplicate the same “once-unimaginable prosperity and partnership” Vietnam now holds with America.

A man walks past a banner depicting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

A man walks past a banner depicting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

“I would say to our North Korean friends that as long as they have a conflict with the United States, they will not be able to develop their economy properly,” said Cuong.

For Vietnamese exports, the United States is a top destination, but China is still Vietnam’s biggest trading partner, according to TheNYT. (RELATED: China Promised The US A Lot On Trade, And Trump Team Is Holding Its Feet To The Fire To Follow Through)

“China will try every possible tactic to keep North Korea in its arms because it wants a country to control,” Cuong said. “Luckily, North Korea has the necessary conditions to escape China’s grip if it deepens its relationship with America.”

Cuong also pointed out allies closer to China have not done as well economically, compared to countries with closer American ties.

“You can say that North Korea and Vietnam are both socialist states, but North Korea is actually a dictatorship run by a family for 70 years,” Nguyen Ngoc Anh, professor at the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, told TheNYT.

Since the United States has stepped away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Vietnam has become more vulnerable to Chinese economic rule, which can ultimately stifle guarantees for workers and generate less official transparency, according to TheNYT.

Follow Alec on Twitter

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Source: The Daily Caller


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