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Trump: I’ll know whether Kim summit will be successful ‘in first minute’

  • President speaks to press at international summit in Canada
  • Trump guided in nuclear talks by ‘just my touch, my feel’

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Trump: I’ll know whether Kim summit will be successful ‘in first minute'” was written by Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington and Martin Pengelly in New York, for theguardian.com on Saturday 9th June 2018 17.34 UTC

Donald Trump on Saturday said his summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore would be a “one-time shot”. Speaking to reporters at the G7 summit in La Malbaie, Canada, the US president projected confidence over the prospects for a deal on denuclearization, stating: “I think within the first minute, I’ll know.”

“Just my touch, my feel, that’s what I do,” he said. “How long will it take to figure out if they’re serious? You know, the way they say you know if you’re going to like somebody in the first five seconds, you ever hear that one? I think very quickly I’ll know whether or not something good is going to happen.”

Trump spoke as he prepared to depart for Singapore and the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president. The two leaders’ relationship began with a long period of mutual threats and abuse but a surprise and rapid diplomatic thaw has endured despite Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the summit late last month.

“You don’t know, it’s not been done before at this level,” Trump said of attempts to establish peace with a reclusive, authoritarian and nuclear-armed regime. He added: “This is a leader that’s really an unknown personality, people don’t know much about him. I think that he’s going to surprise on the upside, very much on the upside, we’ll see.”

The Trump administration has said it wants a “permanent, verifiable, irreversible” dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and a peace treaty to formally end the Korean war, which ceased only with an armistice in 1953.

“It’s a one-time shot and I think it’s going to work out very well,” Trump said, though he also indicated that the summit may only be a starting point, saying it “may not work out. There’s a good chance it won’t work out. There’s probably an even better chance that it will take a period of time, it’ll be a process.”

The president also downplayed suggestions he was not well prepared, a notion he appeared to reinforce earlier this week when he said his approach to the meeting was not about preparation but “about attitude”. Those comments sparked concerns among national security experts that the North Korean leader could outfox his opposite number.

“So we’re going in with a very positive spirit, very well prepared, I think,” Trump said, before misidentifying the site of the meeting. “And by the way, we have worked very well with their people, they have many people now in Shanghai, our people have been – in Singapore – our people have been working very, very well with the representatives of North Korea and I think we’re going to come out fine.”

Asked about suggestions that even granting a meeting to Kim meant conceding valuable ground, he said: “Only the fake news says that. We just got three hostages back, we paid nothing … we have gotten … we haven’t done anything. The haters, they say, ‘Oh, you’re giving him a meeting’ – gimme a break, OK?”

Donald Trump leaves the summit, followed by chief of staff John Kelly, economic adviser Larry Kudlow and national security adviser John Bolton.
Donald Trump leaves the summit, followed by his chief of staff, John Kelly, economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, and national security adviser, John Bolton.
Photograph: Clemens Bilan/EPA

Trump also made lengthy complaints about other countries’ trade policies and doubled down on his claim that Russia should be reinstated to the G7, having been suspended in 2014 after its annexation of Crimea. Trump’s statement on Friday that the Putin regime should be readmitted sparked bipartisan scorn and rebuke from key US allies.

“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in,” Trump told reporters on Saturday. “I think it would be good for the world, I think it would be good for Russia, I think it would be good for the United States, I think it would be good for all of the countries in the G7.”

Trump blamed Barack Obama for not doing enough to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine, stating: “Obama can say all he wants but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude.”

Obama condemned Russia’s actions and pursued sanctions against Moscow.

Trump also pushed back at suggestions that under his leadership, amid disputes regarding relations with Russia and international trade, the US was becoming isolated from its traditional allies.

“I would say the level of relationship is a 10,” he said, claiming “we have a great relationship” with the leaders of countries including Germany, France and Canada.

After a prompt from his economic adviser Larry Kudlow, the US president then left the summit.

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7.3 Earthquake hits New Britain island in Papua New Guinea

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7.3 Earthquake hits New Britain island in Papua New Guinea.

Preliminary reports warn tsunami waves could hit areas within 300km of the earthquake’s epicentre.

The quake hit off the coast New Britain region of Papua New Guinea earlier today. (Daily Star)

This is a breaking story and will be updated shortly

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NY Man Planned to Blow Himself Up at Washington Mall

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Police and FBI agents searched a Hudson Valley home Wednesday after learning about a man who was allegedly building a bomb in order to blow himself up in Washington D.C., two law enforcement officials told News 4 New York.

Investigators said they were concerned the man, identified as Paul Rosenfeld, at the home on Slocum Avenue in Orangetown was in the process of acquiring bomb parts.

Officials tell News 4 Rosenfeld had no criminal history but had told a reporter in Pennsylvania he planned to blow himself up on the Washington Mall around Election Day because he was angry about the country’s direction. 

He had no plans to hurt anyone else, officials said. He is believed to be a lone actor not affiliated with any international terror group or ideology. 

Full Article at https://nts24.co.uk/2A2oWjM 

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Trump ‘demanding’ answers from Saudis about missing writer

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Wednesday the U.S. is “demanding” answers from Saudi Arabia about the disappearance of a well-known Saudi writer and government critic Turkish authorities say was slain inside his country’s diplomatic mission in Istanbul.

Trump said he plans to invite to the White House the fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, a writer for The Washington Post who has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2 to get paperwork for his marriage.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump listens to a question during an interview with Reuters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S. August 20, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Members of Congress have grown increasingly insistent that the administration find out what happened to Khashoggi. The Saudi government has become a closer ally under Trump and some lawmakers warn that relations could be jeopardized if it turns out the kingdom was involved in his disappearance.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he has a call in to the fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who had been waiting outside the consulate when Khashoggi went inside and has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.

Trump said nobody knows exactly what happened and expressed hope that Khashoggi is not dead. He also said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a “bad situation,” but he did not disclose details of his conversations.

Saudi Arabia denies involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, a former insider in Saudi government circles who has been living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. for the past year after fleeing a crackdown on intellectuals and activists in the country.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said White House national security adviser John Bolton and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke on Tuesday to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman about Khashoggi. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow-up call with the crown prince to reiterate the U.S. request for information.

While angry members of Congress likely won’t cause the administration to turn away from Prince Mohammed and end decades of close security ties with Saudi Arabia, they could throw a wrench into arms sales that require their approval and demand the U.S. scale back support for the Saudi military campaign against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “there will definitely be consequences” if it turns out the Saudis were involved in Khashoggi disappearance. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said it would be “devastating” to the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, said if Saudi Arabia had lured a U.S. resident into a consulate and killed him, “it’s time for the United States to rethink our military, political and economic relationship with Saudi Arabia.” But he said it was unclear whether the Trump administration was willing to “go beyond words.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a longtime critic of the Saudi government, said he’ll try to force a vote in the Senate this week blocking U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He told local radio in his home state Tuesday that he wants to end the arms shipments if there’s “any indication” the Saudis are “implicated in killing this journalist that was critical of them.”

Trump’s comments Wednesday were the toughest yet from his administration on the Khashoggi case. Officials have expressed concern but refused even to entertain questions about what the consequences would be if Turkish allegations turn out to be true. Pompeo has called on the Saudi government to conduct a thorough investigation and to be transparent about its results.

The reaction from European governments has also been cautious. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told his Saudi counterpart that if media reports about Khashoggi were correct, it “would be extremely concerning and the U.K. will treat the incident very seriously,” according to the Foreign Office.

The Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, has described the allegations as “malicious leaks and grim rumors” and said the kingdom is “gravely concerned” about Khashoggi. Saudi officials maintain he left the consulate shortly after entering, although it has failed to provide evidence.

Washington Post CEO and publisher Fred Ryan said reports suggested the journalist was victim of “state-sponsored, cold-blooded murder.” He demanded answers in a statement Tuesday, saying “Silence, denials and delays are not acceptable.”

Analysts said there were reasons for skepticism about the Turkish account. Ties between Ankara and Riyadh are at a low point over Turkey’s support for Qatar in that country’s yearlong dispute with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations. Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim power, is also annoyed by Ankara’s rapprochement with the kingdom’s Shiite archrival, Iran.

Saudi authorities’ failure to provide video footage of Khashoggi’s movements at the consulate to rebut the Turkish allegations have only deepened suspicions.

The Trump administration, from the president on down, is heavily invested in the Saudi relationship. That’s unlikely to change, said Robin Wright, a scholar at the Wilson Center think tank and close friend of the missing writer. The administration’s Middle East agenda heavily depends on the Saudis, including efforts to counter Iranian influence in the region, fight extremism and build support for an expected plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Indication of those stakes came within four months of Trump taking office, when Saudi Arabia became his first destination on a presidential trip and he announced $110 billion in proposed arms sales.

Prince Mohammed has introduced some economic and social reforms, allowing women to drive and opening movie theaters in the deeply conservative Muslim nation. The flip side, however, is that he’s also squelched dissent and imprisoned activists. He has championed the three-year military campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen that has pushed that nation toward famine and caused many civilian deaths.

Still, the Trump administration last month stood behind its support for that campaign with weapons, logistics and intelligence, certifying that the Saudis were taken adequate steps to prevent civilian despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

Karen Elliott House, a veteran writer on Saudi affairs and chair of the board of trustees at RAND Corp., said U.S. support for the Yemen war is likely to be the focus of congressional criticism but won’t endanger a relationship that has endured for decades, underpinned by shared strategic interests. Even under the Obama administration, which had difficult relations with Riyadh compared with Trump, there were some $65 billion in completed arms sales.

“The U.S.-Saudi relationship is certainly not about shared moral values,” House said. “It’s about shared security interests.”

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Associated Press writers Susannah George, Matthew Lee and Deb Riechmann and video journalist Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.

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