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Kim-Trump Summit is promising development: UN

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MANHATTAN:  The summit that is due to begin shortly between the leaders of the United States and North Korea is “a promising development for global peace and security,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

US President Donald Trump and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un are due to meet in Singapore on Tuesday morning: the first-ever face-to-face encounter between a sitting US President and a North Korean leader. The UN chief stated that the world is watching.

“The two leaders are seeking to break out of the dangerous cycle that created so much concern last year,” Guterres told journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, referring to escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “Peace and verifiable denuclearization must remain the clear and shared goal.

As I wrote to both leaders last month, the road ahead will require cooperation, compromise, and a common cause.”

Meanwhile. US has offered North Korea “unique” security guarantees to persuade it to give up its nuclear arsenal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday, on the eve of a historic summit in Singapore.

The White House said preparatory negotiations had “moved more quickly than expected” and Donald Trump would leave Tuesday evening after his talks with Kim Jong Un, ruling out the possibility the unprecedented tete-a-tete would run to two days.

The meeting, long sought by Pyongyang, will be the first ever between a serving US president and a North Korean leader and will focus on the nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles the North has spent decades developing.

Just hours ahead of the crunch talks, Kim left his luxury hotel for a night-time stroll around some of Singapore’s main sights, even posing for selfies with his guide, the city-state’s foreign minister.

Setting out the US position before the summit, Pompeo stressed that the Trump administration would only accept complete denuclearization of the North. But in return, Washington would offer “different and unique” guarantees “to provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearization is not something that ends badly for them”.

He refused to go into details. But the North has long sought an end to the US military presence in the South, where Washington has around 28,000 troops stationed to protect it from its neighbor.

THE FLOW OF EVENTS: 

  • 8 p.m. ET (June 11) / 8 a.m. Singapore (June 12): President Trump departs Shangri-La Hotel en route to Capella Singapore, where the two leaders will meet.
  • 8:20 p.m. ET (June 11) / 8:20 a.m. Singapore (June 12): Trump arrives at Capella Singapore.
  • 9 p.m. ET (June 11) / 9 a.m. Singapore (June 12): President Trump and Kim Jong Un greet each other. This is the big moment. Cameras will be there to capture their expected handshake.
  • 9:15 p.m. ET (June 11) / 9:15 a.m. Singapore (June 12): President Trump and Kim Jong Un participate in a one-on-one bilateral meeting.
  • 10 p.m. ET (June 11) / 10 a.m. Singapore (June 12): President Trump and Kim Jong Un participate in an expanded bilateral meeting.
  • 11:30 p.m. ET (June 11) / 11:30 a.m. Singapore (June 12): President Trump and Kim Jong Un have a working lunch.
  • 4 a.m. ET (June 12) / 4 p.m. Singapore: President Trump is expected to speak with reporters.
  • 6:30 a.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. Singapore: President Trump departs Capella Singapore for Paya Lebar Air Base Singapore.
  • 7 a.m. ET / 7 p.m. Singapore: Trump departs Paya Lebar Air Base, Singapore, en route to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. From there, he will travel on to the United States.

Meanwhile, Secretary Pompeo tool to the twitter to maintain:

Relevant pieces published earlier:

i) US President Donald Trump arrived in Singapore today, ahead of a significant summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. It is expected that the Kim-Trump  Summit, scheduled to take place on Tuesday 12th of June, would lay the groundwork for denuclearization of North Korea ending the Pyongyang-Washington tussle. (Published on 10th June 2018) 

ii) Kim Jong-Un the leader of North Korea arrived here today for an extraordinary meeting with Trump who is expected to arrive later today. As he descended from the jet at Changi International Airport, Kim was greeted by the Singapore Foreign Minister Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan. After that North Korean leader was sped through the streets to closely guarded St. Regis Hotel. While meeting the Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong the N. Korean leader held: “The entire world is watching the historic summit between North Korea and the United States of America, and thanks to your sincere efforts we were able to complete the preparations for the historic summit.” It is pertinent to mention here that some 3000 journalists from all over the globe have converged here to witness history in the making. Savants at the helm of affairs reckon that Kim-Trump meeting would find a prominent place in the recent history of mankind, particularly if the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear bomb arsenal is settled by means of the summit. (10th of June 2018)

iii) Ending the ambiguity, White House has confirmed that Donald Trump-Kim Jong-un meeting will commence at 9 am, Tuesday 12th of June at Shangri-La hotel here. The security of the American and North Korean leaders will be ensured by the Gurkhas who are linked to a British tradition. British were beaten back by Gurkhas in the 19th-century Anglo-Nepalese War.  Later the colonialists recruited them and paying the elite regiments of soldiers from Nepal for over two centuries. They have fought in both world wars, Falklands and Afghanistan conflicts. Presently, Gurkhas serve in British, Indian, Nepalese, Brunei and Singapore armies. (6th June 2018) 

iv) Jong Un’s right-hand man met Friday with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office – talks that should include the delivery of a letter from the North Korean leader about their upcoming summit. The official, Kim Yong Chol, was greeted by White House chief of staff John Kelly, who led him to the Oval Office for talks with Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to press secretary Sarah Sanders. Kim Yong Chol arrived in Washington from New York, where he met with Pompeo on preparations for the planned June 12 encounter between the US and North Korean leaders in Singapore. After Thursday’s talks, Pompeo expressed confidence that the process was moving in the right direction, but warned that the North’s young leader must be bold enough to make a “strategic shift” in understanding that he will be safer without nuclear weapons. US officials said the letter from Kim to Trump may not clear up all the questions about the agenda but may bring the planned Singapore meeting a step closer. (1st of June, 2018)

v)  Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man was due at the White House to meet with US President Donald Trump, press secretary Sarah Sanders said – talks that should include the delivery of a letter from the North Korean leader about their upcoming summit. The official, Kim Yong Chol, was expected to arrive at 1:00 pm (1700 GMT), when he was to see Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sanders said. The North Korean envoy will be greeted by White House chief of staff John Kelly and US National Security Advisor John Bolton, who will take him to the Oval Office for the meeting.

vi) The US. delegation is meeting N. Korean officials in *Panmunjom, at the border between North and South Korea, about a possible rendezvous between the leaders of two countries.  A US delegation was holding talks with North Korean officials today at a border truce village amid preparations for a summit between the two countries’ leaders, the State Department said. “A US delegation is in ongoing talks with North Korean officials at Panmunjom,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement…We continue to prepare for a meeting between the President and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.” The State Department provided no details on the latest talks but The Washington Post earlier reported that the US delegation had crossed over to the North Korean side of the border at Panmunjom. The US delegation was led by Sung Kim, a former US ambassador to South Korea and former nuclear negotiator with the North. It said the Americans met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui. (28th of May, 2018) *Panmunjom is located in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean peninsula.

vii) US President Donald Trump, a day after his cancellation of a high-stakes summit with North Korea, said Friday that the meeting with Kim Jong Un could still go ahead. “We’re going to see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House, after welcoming Pyongyang’s latest statement on the talks as “very good news. “It could even be the 12th,” he said in a reference to the original June 12 date set for the meeting in Singapore. “We’re talking to them now,” Trump said of the North Koreans. 

“They very much want to do it. We’d like to do it. We’ll see what happens.” North Korea, responding to Trump’s abrupt cancellation of the meeting over “hostility” from Pyongyang, said Friday that it is willing to talk to the United States “at any time.” Trump welcomed the statement as “warm and productive.” “We will soon see where it will lead, hopefully too long and enduring prosperity and peace. Only time (and talent) will tell!” the US president said in a tweet. In a letter to Kim, Trump said Thursday he would not go ahead with the summit in Singapore, following what the White House called a “trail of broken promises” by the North. (25th of May, 2018)

viii)  In a correspondence addressed to North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un President Donald Trump has made it clear that due to North Korean anger and hostility the Singapore summit had been canceled. Trump and Kim had been due to hold high-stakes talks on June 12 aimed at ridding the reclusive state of nuclear weapons, but the meeting was recently thrown into doubt as both sides raised the prospect of scrapping the discussions and traded threats. Trump’s letter came a day after North Korea attacked US Vice President Mike Pence as “ignorant and stupid.” “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter to Kim released by the White House.

“Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place.” Trump also brandished the threat of America’s nuclear might in his letter, writing: “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.” The US leader’s letter appeared to leave the door open to a future meeting with Kim, however, stressing that he had been “very much looking forward to being there.” “We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions” relative to the summit, he told Kim. 

It is pertinent to mention here that today North Korea has proclaimed that it had fully demolished its nuclear test site with a series of planned detonations. According to an official declaration: “The Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK held a ceremony for completely dismantling the northern nuclear test ground on May 24… to ensure transparency of the discontinuance of nuclear test… “Dismantling the nuclear test ground was done in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse by the explosion and completely close the tunnel entrances, and at the same time, explode some guard facilities and observation posts on the site”. It has been confirmed that no leakage of radiation had been detected at the site during explosions.  

ix) US President Donald Trump asks North Korea to abandon its nuclear program on Tuesday, ahead of an expected summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un. Earlier, the US leader – who had spent the day in talks with French President Emmanuel Macron – had described Kim as “very open” and “very honorable” – his most positive comments yet about a man he once publicly belittled. But when pressed about what he hoped to gain from Pyongyang, the 71-year-old Republican president was blunt. “Meetings are being set up, and I want to see denuclearization of North Korea,” Trump told reporters.

Asked to explain what he means by denuclearization, Trump replied: “It means they get rid of their nukes – very simple.” “It would be very easy for me to make a simple deal and claim victory. I don’t want to do that. I want them to get rid of their nukes.” While Trump has repeatedly referred to North Korea’s denuclearization, Pyongyang however consistently defines the term as “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” – code for the removal of America’s military presence in the South, a condition Washington is unlikely to accept. Amid preparations for a landmark bilateral US-North Korea summit, which could come in June, Trump had kind words for Kim, whom he once called a “madman” and “little rocket man.”

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4 years of coalition strikes on Syria kill 3,300 civilians!

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BEIRUT: More than 3,000 civilians have been killed in US-led coalition air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria since they began four years ago, a monitor said on Sunday.
The Washington-led alliance puts the toll at just over 1,000 civilians in both Syria and neighboring Iraq and says it does all it can to prevent civilian deaths. The coalition began bombing IS targets in Iraq in August 2014 after the jihadist group seized swathes of territory straddling the two countries, proclaiming an Islamic “caliphate”. The coalition extended its strikes to Syria on September 23, 2014. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said on Sunday those Syria strikes had since killed 3,331 civilians. The monitor relies on a network of sources inside Syria and tracks flight patterns, aircraft involved and ammunition used to determine who carries out raids.
“Among those killed are 826 children and 615 women,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.  The coalition says it takes every possible precaution to prevent civilian deaths.  In its latest civilian casualty report published last month, the coalition said its strikes had unintentionally killed 1,061 civilians in both Iraq and Syria up until July 30, 2018.  It is still assessing a further 216 reports of civilian casualties, some of them in strikes dating back to 2014.  Its spokesman did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment on the discrepancy between its toll and that of the Observatory, or for a breakdown of civilian casualties in Syria. The coalition’s operations have largely wound down, with the jihadists ousted from all but tiny bits of territory in Syria. More than 360,000 people have been killed across Syria since the conflict broke out in 2011, nearly a third of them civilians, according to the Observatory.

 

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Asia

Maoist rebels kill India lawmaker: police

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NEW DELHI: Maoist rebels were accused Sunday of assassinating a south Indian lawmaker and another former legislator in a brazen daytime ambush on their vehicle, police and media reports said.
Kidari Sarveswara Rao, a member of the ruling party in Andhra Pradesh state, was shot dead near the coastal city of Visakhapatnam in what police say was a targeted hit on the sitting legislator.
Former lawmaker S. Soma, who was accompanying Rao, was also gunned down in the attack blamed on Maoist fighters active in a forested belt of central and eastern India.
E. Naidu, a local police official, told AFP that Rao was on a Maoist “hit list” of powerful figures accused of having ties to bauxite miners in the mineral-rich state.
“There were some 30 Maoists in hiding. They attacked suddenly, giving no time for them (Rao and Soma) to react,” he said.
The Press Trust of India reported that a large group blocked the car and overpowered the bodyguards escorting the two officials, before turning their weapons on them.
It was the first such attack in many years in Andhra Pradesh, once a hotbed for insurgents fighting for what they say are the land rights of marginalized tribal communities.
Maoists are still active across thousands of square miles of central and eastern India known as the “Red Corridor”.
The insurgency began in West Bengal five decades ago when peasant farmers rose up against feudal landlords. Some 10,000 people have been killed since.

 

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Europe

Macron’s popularity at record lows

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PARIS: The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has hit its lowest level since the start of his term, according to a major tracker poll published on Sunday, with just 29 percent of respondents satisfied with his leadership.
The poll by research group Ifop and published in the Journal du Dimanche showed an overall fall of five points in September compared with August, reflecting the 40-year-old’s battle with a series of domestic and foreign setbacks.
The results of the widely watched Ifop poll are broadly in line with other surveys that have shown the approval ratings of the centrist falling sharply following a scandal involving a security aide in July.
A separate poll by the Kantar Sofres Onepoint group published on September 17 showed that only 19 percent of French people had a positive view of Macron’s record, while another survey on September 11 showed only 29 percent thought he was a “good president.”  The results reinforce a longer-term trend of French voters turning quickly on their presidents soon after their election — something suffered by Macron’s predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.
But many analysts also believe Macron has made a series of political errors, including failing to address the scandals over the summer quickly enough and repeatedly creating negative headlines with harsh or condescending remarks.
His leadership style was again questioned last week when he told an unemployed gardener that he should look for a job in a restaurant or on a building site and implied he was not searching hard enough.
Macron’s biggest challenge remains the economy, however, with his pro-business reforms failing so far to produce a significant fall in unemployment or a major uptick in growth. His government will unveil its draft budget for 2019 on Monday, which is set to see fresh efforts to rein in France’s chronic overspending via cuts to the public sector payroll and caps on pensions.
The survey by Ifop published on Sunday was conducted between September 14-22 on 1,964 people. Macron’s approval rating of 29 percent includes 3.0 percent of people who declared themselves “very satisfied” and 26 percent who said they were “mostly satisfied.”
Hollande had an inferior rating of 23 percent at the same time of his term and Sarkozy had a rating of 34 percent.

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