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North Korea: Trump open to talks but will apply ‘maximum pressure’

  • President wants talks ‘at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances
  • White House confirms details of phone call with South Korean leader

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “North Korea: Trump promises ‘peace through strength’ and denies strike plan” was written by Julian Borger in Washington Justin McCurry in Tokyo, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 10th January 2018 22.00 UTC

Donald Trump has promised “peace through strength” on the Korean peninsula, reportedly telling his South Korean counterpart that no US military action against Pyongyang is being contemplated while diplomacy is under way.

In a phone call with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, on Wednesday, Trump expressed his openness to talks with North Korea “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances” according to a short White House account of the meeting, which gave no further details. The Trump administration has previously sent mixed signals on its preconditions before beginning a dialogue with the regime.

Speaking at the White House, Trump shrugged off reports in the press suggesting his administration was considering punitive air strikes against North Korea to show it is serious about curbing Pyongyang’s development of nuclear and missile capabilities.

Stressing his commitment to military spending, Trump said: “We are going to have peace through strength.”

He added: “I think we’re going to have a long period of peace. I hope we do. We have certainly problems with North Korea but a lot of good talks are going on right now – a lot of good energy. I like it very much .”

According to a South Korean government spokesman, Trump promised Moon there would be no military action “of any kind” while the dialogue continued between the two Koreas. That dialogue restarted on Tuesday, after a break of two years, in talks in the border village of Panmunjoin, which resulted in North Korean regime agreeing to send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Moon briefed Trump on the Panmunjoin talks and went out of his way to thank Trump for his policy of imposing “maximum pressure” on North Korea.

“I think President Trump deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, and I want to show my gratitude,” he told reporters in Seoul. “It could be the result of US-led sanctions and pressure.”

In his version of his conversation with Moon, Trump also emphasised his owned role in creating conditions for the talks to occur.

“He’s very thankful for what we’ve done. It was so reported today that … without our attitude, that would have never happened,” Trump told reporters. “Who knows where it leads. Hopefully, it will lead to success for the world – not just for our country, but for the world. And we’ll be seeing over the next number of weeks and months what happens.”

In their telephone conversation on Wednesday, Trump also told Moon that vice-president Mike Pence would lead the US delegation to the Olympic Games, the White House said.

En route to South Korea, Pence will also travel to Alaska to review ballistic missile defense facilities, the White House said.

Moon’s praise for Trump is being seen as an attempt to ease US concerns that the recent thaw in cross-border ties could drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

On Tuesday, North Korea agreed to send a large delegation to the Games, which open in Pyeongchang on 9 February. The two sides also agreed to hold military talks in an attempt to prevent an accidental conflict on the peninsula.

While Moon has been more open to the idea of engagement than either of his two conservative predecessors, he said Seoul and Washington shared a common aim: the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

“This initial round of talks is for the improvement of relations between North and South Korea,” he said. “Our task going forward is to draw North Korea to talks aimed at the denuclearisation of the North. That is our basic stance, and that will never be given up.”

He added: “We cannot say talks are the sole answer. If North Korea engages in provocations again or does not show sincerity in resolving this issue, the international community will continue applying strong pressure and sanctions.”

Moon said he was open to meeting his counterpart, Kim Jong-un, but he would not engage in “talks for the sake of talks”.

“To hold a summit, the right conditions must be created and certain outcomes must be guaranteed,” he said.

Lee Woo-young, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said Moon had been right to praise Trump.

“By doing that, he can help the US build logic for moving toward negotiations and turning around the state of affairs in the future, so when they were ready to talk to the North, they can say the North came out of isolation because the sanctions were effective,” he said.

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Trump Administration Wants California To Pay Back Billions For Bullet Train

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Trump administration plans to cancel $929 million in U.S. money for California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project and wants the state to return an additional $2.5 billion it’s already spent.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announcement Tuesday came after threats from President Donald Trump to make California pay back the money awarded to build the train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The project has faced cost overruns and years of delays.

The Trump administration argues California hasn’t provided required matching dollars and can’t complete work by a 2022 deadline.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office and California rail officials didn’t immediately comment.

Last week, Newsom said the rail project “as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long.” He wants to refocus on building a line in central California.

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Calls For Reconsideration of SCOTUS Verdict In New York Times v. Sullivan

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday urged the court to reconsider its landmark precedent that made it harder for public figures to sue for defamation even as he joined in a decision to end a defamation suit against comedian Bill Cosby.

The 1964 high court ruling in the libel case known as New York Times v. Sullivan has served as a powerful protection for media reporting on public figures. But Thomas, one of the high court’s most conservative justices, said it is not rooted in the U.S. Constitution.

That ruling and the court’s later ones extending it “were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law,” Thomas wrote, expressing views that appear to be aligned with those expressed previously by President Donald Trump.

Thomas made the comments in a concurring opinion agreeing with his fellow justices in refusing to consider reviving a defamation lawsuit against Cosby by Kathrine McKee, an actress and former Las Vegas showgirl who said he falsely called her a liar after she accused him of raping her in 1974.

McKee was represented in the case by attorney Charles Harder, who represented Trump in a defamation suit brought against the president by adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, which he denies. McKee had appealed a court ruling in Massachusetts that threw out her lawsuit.

In January 2018, Trump called current defamation laws “a sham and a disgrace” following the publication of a book about the White House by author Michael Wolff called “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which among other things questioned the president’s mental health.

The high court’s unanimous 1964 ruling held that in order to win a libel suit, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the offending statement was made with “actual malice,” meaning knowledge that it was false or reckless disregard as to whether it was false.

The case involved a lawsuit against the New York Times, a newspaper that Trump often criticizes for its coverage of him.

Thomas wrote that “we should carefully examine the original meaning of the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” referring to the constitutional provisions protecting freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the application of those rights to the states.

“If the Constitution does not require public figures to satisfy an actual-malice standard in state-law defamation suits, then neither should we,” Thomas wrote.

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Leaving Neverland: First Trailer For Devastating New Michael Jackson Documentary Released

HBO/Channel 4 production features the testimonies of two men who allege that the singer sexually abused them as children

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Leaving Neverland: first trailer for ‘devastating’ Michael Jackson documentary” was written by Benjamin Lee, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 19th February 2019 19.32 UTC

It’s a documentary Michael Jackson’s estate doesn’t want you to see. But despite legal threats, HBO and Channel 4 will air Leaving Neverland next month.

A new trailer offers a first look at the troubling two-part, four-hour film that premiered at Sundance film festival last month, featuring the testimonies of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who allege that Jackson sexually abused them as children.

“He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail,” says Robson in the trailer.

The film shocked critics and audiences when it was shown at Sundance. Variety’s Owen Gleiberman called it “devastating” and the Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg praised it as “complicated and heartbreaking”.

“This is not a movie about Michael Jackson,” said director Dan Reed to Variety. “This is not a movie about Michael Jackson abusing little boys. It’s a movie about two families and how two families came to terms with what their sons revealed to them many years after Jackson died.”

Jackson’s estate has already criticised the film in a 10-page letter addressed to HBO’s CEO. It denied the allegations and condemned director Dan Reed for not speaking to anyone in Jackson’s family or legal team. Since the film premiered, some Jackson fans have attacked the director and the two accusers.

“There is also this league of fans who are almost like a cult, and they say very nasty things [about the film] on social media,” Reed said to Vice. “And their words echo the two-decade long rhetoric of the Jackson family and legal team, which is shaming the victims. It happens often in these cases. It’s what they do very aggressively and relentlessly, and I don’t think you can get away with that in 2019 like you could in the past.”

Earlier this month, a Chicago pre-run of an upcoming Broadway show based around Jackson’s music was cancelled because of the Actors’ Equity Association strike reportedly causing delays. Equity has rejected that its “modest” demand was to blame for the cancellation.

“The developmental lab that was scheduled for this production was delayed by 12 working days during the strike,” a spokesman said. “It is difficult to understand how a modest delay in February would impact a run that was scheduled for late October.”

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