‘PLAYING WITH FIRE’: Pelosi to Visit Taiwan Despite Fresh Warnings from China

WASHINGTON— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s tour of Asia will include a visit to Taiwan, senior Taiwanese government and US officials confirmed on Monday.

The planned visit comes despite fresh warnings by the Chinese government that Pelosi’s stop will be seen as an act of aggression on the part of the United States.

“We would like to tell the US once again that China is standing by, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will never sit idly by. China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a foreign ministry briefing Monday.

“As for what measures, if she dares to go, then let’s wait and see,” Zhao added.

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby said Monday that the Biden administration will take all necessary precautions to ensure Pelosi’s safety.

“We want to make sure that when she travels overseas, she can do so safely and securely and we’re going to make sure of that. There is no reason for the Chinese rhetoric. There is no reason for any actions to be taken. It is not uncommon for congressional leaders to travel to Taiwan,” Kirby told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “New Day.”

“We shouldn’t be as a country – we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions. This is an important trip for the speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her.” 

Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned against “playing with fire” over Taiwan in a call with Joe Biden last Thursday, highlighting Beijing’s concerns about the possible visit.

“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” China’s foreign ministry quoted Xi as telling Biden in their fifth call as leaders. “It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this.”

Xi warned the Biden administration should abide by the “one-China principle” and stressed that China firmly opposes Taiwanese independence and outside interference.

Republicans Call on Top Scientist to Clarify Response to Congress

New report calls into question Dr. Kristian Andersen’s assertion he never suppressed lab leak theory

WASHINGTON—Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.), House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.), and House Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), joined by several Select Subcommittee Republicans, today wrote to Dr. Kristian Andersen calling on him to clarify his response to Congress that he did not act to suppress any theory about the origins of COVID-19. A recent Vanity Fair report brings into question the accuracy of Andersen’s assertion and the lawmakers call on him to appear for a transcribed interview to clarify his response.

“On February 3, 2022, we wrote you regarding apparent attempts to conceal or cover-up pertinent information regarding the origins of COVID-19, specifically the hypothesis that it leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. On February 17, 2022, you responded to our letter and stated that you were ‘not aware of, and [were] not involved in, any effort to suppress any particular theory about the origins of SARS-CoV-2.’ Recent reporting by Vanity Fair brings into question the truthfulness of that response. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §1001, ‘in any matter within the jurisdiction of the…legislative…branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully mak[ing] any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation’ is a crime. We therefore invite you to correct the Committee record, in person, in a transcribed interview at your earliest convenience,” wrote the Republican lawmakers.

A recent Vanity Fair article details how Dr. Andersen offered to delete or edit a paper authored by Dr. Jesse Bloom in June 2021 about the origins of COVID-19 and how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) deleted early viral sequences of virus the behest of Chinese researchers. The Republican lawmakers have been seeking answers from Dr. Andersen and other top scientists about why they initially supported the lab leak hypothesis in early 2020 but then suddenly reversed course after speaking with Dr. Francis Collins, the former director of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“A recent exposé by Vanity Fair brings into question the accuracy of your assertion that you did not suppress any theory about the origins of COVID-19 and therefore all previous statements made to the Committee,” continued the Republican lawmakers. “Dr. Bloom’s paper was problematic for Drs. Fauci and Collins—who one year earlier had awarded you an $8.9 million dollar research grant since it explicitly advocated for a more thorough investigation of NIH, COVID-19’s origin, and did not adhere to the ‘real card-carrying…virologists[’]’ preferred narrative … Dr. Bloom said that you took issue with his research suggesting it was ‘unethical’ to analyze why the Chinese researchers requested the sequences be deleted … you then told Dr. Bloom that you could simply delete or revise the paper in a way that ‘would leave no record that this had been done’ …  This incident, if true, contradicts your February 17, 2022 letter and shows that you offered to ‘suppress’ research about the origins of COVID-19 that did not fit your pre-determined narrative.”

Read the full letter to Dr. Andersen here.

POTUS PULLS OUT: Trump Withdraws US From World Health Organization Over Covid Concerns

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced the United States will end its relationship with the World Health Organization effective Friday, accusing the organization of caving to pressure from China and criticizing its handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The world needs answers from China on the virus,” Trump said in a statement at the White House. “We must have transparency.”

“We have detailed the reforms that it must make and engaged with them directly, but they have refused to act,” he said. “Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs.”

In previous remarks Trump said that China had not properly reported information it had about the Covid-19 virus to the World Health Organization and said China had pressured the WHO to “mislead the world.”

“Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the World Health Organization and pressured the World Health Organization to mislead the world when the virus was first discovered by Chinese authorities,” Trump said. “Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe.”

The president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization was met with criticism from both the left and right.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted after the president’s announcement.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who heads the American Medical Association’s chamber’s health committee, warned Trump “in the strongest possible terms” to reverse the decision.

“I disagree with the president’s decision,” Alexander said in a released statement. “Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with Coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it. Withdrawing U.S. membership could, among other things, interfere with clinical trials that are essential to the development of vaccines, which citizens of the United States as well as others in the world need. And withdrawing could make it harder to work with other countries to stop viruses before they get to the United States.”

Many conservatives, however, praised the president’s decision, calling out the organization not only for its treatment of China but also its record of support for pro-abortion organizations.

“I am proud that our country will no longer be sending taxpayer dollars to support this radical regime,” said Allan Parker, president of The Justice Foundation, a pro-life legal group. “True, life-saving health measures can be funded through other organzations without an abortion agenda.”

AP: Trump, Kim share smiles, dinner before nuke talks

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un projected optimism Wednesday as they opened high-stakes talks about curbing Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, a problem that has bedeviled generations of leaders.

The second summit between Trump and Kim came against the backdrop of the American president’s domestic troubles. As the leaders dined on steak and chocolate cake, Trump’s former personal attorney was readying explosive congressional testimony claiming the president is a “conman” who lied abut his business interests with Russia.

The turmoil in Washington has escalated concerns that Trump, eager for an agreement, would give Kim too much and get too little in return. The leaders’ first meeting in June was heavy with historic pageantry but light on any enforceable agreements for North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal. Still, both offered optimistic words before dinner.

“A lot of things are going to be solved I hope,” Trump said as dinner began. “I think it will lead to a wonderful, really a wonderful situation long-term.”

Kim said his country had long been “misunderstood” and viewed with “distrust.”

“There have been efforts, whether out of hostility or not, to block the path that we intend to take,” he said. “But we have overcome all these and walked toward each other again and we’ve now reached Hanoi after 261 days” since their first meeting in Singapore.

“We have met again here and I am confident that we can achieve great results that everyone welcomes,” he added.

The leaders’ formal talks continue Thursday. Possible outcomes could include a peace declaration for the Korean War that the North could use to eventually push for the reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea, or sanctions relief that could allow Pyongyang to pursue lucrative economic projects with the South.

Skeptics say such agreements would leave in place a significant portion of North Korea’s nuclear-tipped missiles while robbing the United States of its negotiating leverage going forward.

Asked if this summit would yield a political declaration to end the Korean War, Trump told reporters: “We’ll see.”

Trump’s schedule for Thursday promised a “joint agreement signing ceremony” after their meetings conclude.

The two leaders were joined for dinner by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Kim Yong Chol, a former military spy chief and Kim’s point man in negotiations, and North Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Ri Yong Ho. Interpreters for each side also attended.

Trump did not answer a question from a reporter about his former attorney Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony. Shortly after, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders excluded some U.S. reporters, including the reporter from The Associated Press who asked the president about Cohen, from covering Trump and Kim’s dinner.

“Due to the sensitive nature of the meetings we have limited the pool for the dinner to a smaller group,” she said in a statement.

Still, Trump was unable to ignore the drama playing out thousands of miles away, tweeting that Cohen “did bad things unrelated to Trump” and “is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

Cohen has been sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close White House ally, said the Cohen hearing was evidence that “Democrats’ hatred of Trump is undercutting an important foreign policy effort and is way out of line.”

Anticipation for what could be accomplished at the summit ran high in Hanoi, and there were cheers and gasps as Trump’s motorcade barreled through this bustling city. Crowds three or four deep lined the streets and jockeyed to capture his procession with their mobile phones.

The carnival-like atmosphere in the Vietnamese capital, with street artists painting likenesses of the leaders and vendors hawking T-shirts showing Kim waving and Trump giving a thumbs-up, contrasted with the serious items on their agenda: North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump has been trying to convince Kim that his nation could thrive economically like the host country, Vietnam, if he would end his nuclear weapons program.

“I think that your country has tremendous economic potential — unbelievable, unlimited,” Trump said. “I think that you will have a tremendous future with your country — a great leader — and I look forward to watching it happen and helping it to happen.”

The summit venue, the colonial and neoclassical Sofitel Legend Metropole in the old part of Hanoi, came with its own dose of history: Trump was trying to talk Kim into giving up his nuclear arsenal at a hotel with a bomb shelter that protected the likes of actress Jane Fonda and singer Joan Baez from American air raids during the Vietnam War.

After their first summit, where Trump and Kim signed a joint statement agreeing to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, the president prematurely declared victory, tweeting that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” The facts did not support that claim.

North Korea has spent decades, at great economic sacrifice, building its nuclear program, and there are doubts that it will give away that program without getting something substantial from the U.S.

The Korean conflict ended in 1953 with an armistice, essentially a cease-fire signed by North Korea, China and the 17-nation, U.S.-led United Nations Command. A peace declaration would amount to a political statement, ostensibly teeing up talks for a formal peace treaty that would involve other nations.

North and South Korea also want U.S. sanctions dialed back so they can resurrect two major symbols of rapprochement that provided $150 million a year to the impoverished North by some estimates: a jointly run factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong and South Korean tours to the North’s scenic Diamond Mountain resort.

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AP journalists Hau Dinh and Hyung-jin Kim in Hanoi and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

TRUMPANDKIM

Rand Paul to Trump: Saudis ‘Are Not Our Friends’; ‘Stop Arming Them’

WASHINGTON— Senator Rand Paul says he advised President Donald Trump over the weekend that the time to stop arming Saudi interests is long overdue.

“I told him that we need to cut off arms to Saudi Arabia,”Paul told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto on Tuesday.”For over a year now, I have been trying to get Congress to stop sending more arms to Saudi Arabia”.

“It’s important to remember that Saudi Arabia is the largest state sponsor of radical Islam,” the Kentucky Republican continued. “They fund tens of thousands of madrassas around the world, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Philippines, all teaching hatred of America. They have been doing this for decades. They are not our friends.”

Paul’s urging of Trump comes in the wake of this week’s news of an apparent murder of a Saudi writer at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Paul said the journalist’s murder only represents more proof “that we need not be arming them.”

In their conversation, Paul says the president claimed that cutting off $110 billion in U.S. arms sales to the Saudis may result in Saudi officials turning to Russia or China to supply them.

An argument to which Paul says he completely disagrees.

“It’s been reported that their air force can’t go a couple months without spare parts. Their air force is entirely U.S. planes. They are dependent on us for parts, mechanics. They are entirely dependent on us. They can’t last months without our help.”

“We tell them absolutely we are not going to do business with a government that chops up journalists, puts them in little bags, and then escorts them out of an embassy and dumps them somewhere,” Paul countered.

“This is not civilized behavior. And what they’re doing around the world — hatred of America is not civilized. We have been turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia for decades. They are the worst actor out there promoting terrorism.”

Paul then went on to note that Trump himself has referred to the war in Iraq as a “big mistake”.

“He has been very consistent and strong on that,” said Paul. “The war in Yemen is exactly the same way. It’s going to lead to chaos, and it will lead to be another festering ground for terrorism.”

Is he insistent on the matter when it comes to his dealings with Trump? Yes, says Paul. And unapologetically so.

“I do bug the president. When I talk to the president, what I talk to him about is, let’s get the hell out of Afghanistan ” adding that he feels the same way about getting the U.S. out of Yemen.

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TRUMP: Trade deal returns US to ‘manufacturing powerhouse’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump hailed his revamped North American trade deal with Canada and Mexico on Monday and vowed to sign it by late November. But it’s not the final step in the lengthy path to congressional approval on an issue that has served for two decades as a political football for U.S. industrial policy and the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Embracing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement during a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump branded the trade deal the “USMCA,” a moniker he said would replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. With a satisfied smile, the president said the new name had a “good ring to it,” repeating U-S-M-C-A several times.

But Trump noted that the deal would need to be ratified by Congress, a step that could be affected by the outcome of the fall congressional elections as Democrats seek to regain majorities in the House and Senate. When told that he seemed confident of congressional approval after his announcement, he said he was “not at all confident” — but not because of the deal’s merits or defects.

“Anything you submit to Congress is trouble no matter what,” Trump said, predicting that Democrats would say, “Trump likes it so we’re not going to approve it.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had opposed the deal until very recently, but he said Monday that his country was in a more stable place now that it had completed the negotiations. He said the deal needed to be fair since one trading partner is 10 times larger. He said Canada did not simply accept “any deal.”

“We got the right deal. We got a win-win-win for all three countries,” Trudeau said.

Trump said the accord would return the United States to a “manufacturing powerhouse.”

In fact, the U.S. has always been a manufacturing powerhouse and by some projections — before the current deal — expected to be No. 1 in 2020.

The economic agreement was forged just before a midnight deadline imposed by the U.S. to include Canada in a deal reached with Mexico late in the summer. It replaces NAFTA, which Trump has lambasted as a job-wrecking disaster that has hollowed out the nation’s industrialized base.

The agreement gives U.S. farmers greater access to the Canadian dairy market. But it keeps the former North American Free Trade Agreement dispute-resolution process that the U.S. wanted to jettison. It offers Canada protection if Trump goes ahead with plans to impose tariffs on cars, trucks and auto parts imported into the United States.

NAFTA reduced most trade barriers in North America, leading to a surge in trade between the three countries. But Trump and other critics said it encouraged manufacturers to move south of the border to take advantage of low-wage Mexican wages, costing American jobs.

Trump had threatened to go ahead with a revamped NAFTA, with or without Canada. It was unclear, however, whether he had authority from Congress to pursue a revamped NAFTA with only Mexico.

Flanked by Cabinet members on a sunny morning at the White House, Trump said the pact was the “most important deal we’ve ever made by far,” covering $1.2 trillion in trade.

For Trump, the agreement offered vindication for his hardline trade policies that have roiled relations with China, the European Union and America’s North American neighbors while causing concerns among Midwest farmers and manufacturers worried about retaliation. Trump’s advisers view the trade pact as a political winner in battleground states critical to the president’s 2016 victory and home to tens of thousands of auto workers and manufacturers who could benefit from the changes.

Trump said he would sign the final agreement in late November, in about 60 days, and the pact is expected to be signed by Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto before he leaves office Dec. 1. Trump said he spoke to Trudeau by phone and told reporters that their recent tensions didn’t affect the deal-making. “He’s a professional. I’m a professional,” Trump said, calling it a “fair deal.”

Canada, the United States’ No. 2 trading partner, is by far the No. 1 destination for U.S. exports, and the U.S. market accounts for 75 percent of what Canada sells abroad.

But the president said his administration had not yet agreed to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, a contentious issue between the two neighbors.

Trump has used U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of imported goods from China and other nations as a negotiating tactic and said the North American deal offered evidence that his approach was working. “Without tariffs, we wouldn’t be standing here,” he said.

The future of the agreement has also been a major issue in Mexico, where Pena Nieto will be replaced by President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in December. Uncertainty over the fate of NAFTA talks had threatened to batter Mexico’s currency and economic outlook.

Mexico’s incoming foreign relations secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, said during a news conference that “finishing this process of renegotiation provides certainty for financial markets, investment and job creation in our country.” He said, however, that some of the new regulations may pose challenges for companies to adapt to.

The new pact will require regional content of 75 percent for automobiles, and also that 40 to 45 percent of vehicles be produced in plants paying at least $16 per hour. Pena Nieto said via Twitter on Monday that the deal negotiated over the last 13 months “achieves what we proposed at the beginning: a win-win-win agreement.”

Ratifying the deal is likely to stretch into 2019 because once Trump and the leaders from Canada and Mexico sign the agreement, the administration and congressional leaders will need to write legislation to implement the deal and win passage in Congress.

___

Associated Press columnists Rob Gillies and Paul Wiseman contributed to the contents of this report.

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‘THEY DON’T WANT ME TO WIN’: Trump accuses China of ‘attempting to interfere’ with 2018 US election

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused China of attempting to interfere in the upcoming United States congressional elections, claiming the Chinese are motivated by opposition to his tough trade policy.

The Chinese said it wasn’t so.

Trump, speaking in front of world leaders while chairing the United Nations Security Council for the first time, made his accusation amid the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election to help him and concerns that the November elections could also be vulnerable.

“Regrettably, we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election,” Trump said “They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”

Asked later what evidence he had, he replied, “Plenty of evidence,” but he didn’t provide any.

H alleged again, “They would like to see me not win because this is the first time ever that they’ve been confronted on trade. And we are winning and we’re winning big. And they can’t get involved with our elections.”

A Chinese delegate shrugged when he heard Trump’s statement via translation in the General Assembly. China later denied Trump’s accusation.

“We do not and will not interfere in any countries’ domestic affairs,” said Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the United Nations. “We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China, and we call on other countries to also observe the purposes of the U.N. charter and not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.”

U.S. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Trump’s remark.

There is extensive evidence linking Russia to attempts to penetrate U.S. elections systems and to influence U.S. voters. But with the elections less than two months away, U.S. intelligence and election-protection officials have not cited any specific, credible Chinese efforts.

Officials say China’s cyber-espionage operations targeting U.S. defense and commerce have been formidable, however. And Trump’s claim comes amid an escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing, spurred by their growing trade dispute.

Each imposed tariff increases on the other’s goods Monday, and Beijing accused the Trump administration of bullying. A Chinese official said China cannot hold talks on ending the trade dispute while the U.S. “holds a knife” to Beijing’s neck by imposing tariff hikes.

U.S. intelligence officials have said they are not now seeing the intensity of Russian intervention registered in 2016 and are also concerned about activity by China, Iran and North Korea. Trump’s statement caught lawmakers and some national security officials off guard as Beijing has not been singled out as the most worrisome foe.

Thomas Rid, a Johns Hopkins cybersecurity expert, said, “I am not aware of any evidence of Chinese interference in the midterm elections.” He said, “Chinese influence operations tend to be more subtle, less public, and business-related.”

China has been accused of interfering in an election before, although not in the United States. Cybersecurity firm Fire Eye released a report in July describing “active compromises of multiple Cambodia entities related to the country’s electoral system” including the National Election Commission, before the country’s July 29 general elections.

The hackers’ methods matched a Chinese-linked hacking group tied to multiple cyber operations that have breached U.S. defense contractors, universities and engineering and maritime technology development firms.

Trump also used his moment chairing the Security Council meeting about nuclear proliferation to issue a strong warning to nuclear-aspirant Iran, which he deemed the “world’s leading sponsor of terror” fueling “conflict around the region and far beyond.”

The president has withdrawn the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, accusing the country of destabilizing actions throughout the region and support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah. Tough sanctions are due to kick in against Tehran in November, and Trump warned that there would be “severe consequences” for any nation that defied them.

Despite his tough talk, Trump said he could envision relations with Iran moving along a similar “trajectory” as ones with North Korea. A year ago at the U.N., Trump belittled its leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” and threatened to annihilate the country, but on Wednesday he touted the “the wonderful relationship” with Kim and teased that details of a second summit between the two men could be released soon.

He also condemned violence in the ongoing bloody civil war in Syria, saying that the “butchery is enabled by Russia and Iran.”

Trump also waded into thorny Middle East politics, endorsing the two-state solution to bring an end the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. A day after being greeted with laughter by world leaders still uncertain how to manage his “America First” ideology, Trump explicitly backed Israel, noted the moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and suggested that he saw progress on the horizon for Middle East peace.

“I like two-state solution,” Trump said in his most clear endorsement of the plan as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “That’s what I think works best.”

Trump indicated that moving the embassy was “a big chip” the U.S. delivered to the Israelis.

“I took probably the biggest chip off the table. And so obviously they have to start, you know, we have to make a fair deal. We have to do something. Deals have to be good for both parties.”

“Now that will also mean that Israel will have to do something that is good for the other side.”

The two-state “solution” is mostly aspirational. Ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians over the division of territory, borders and governance has spawned violence going back years and long stymied Mideast peace efforts.

Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv triggered considerable protest from the Palestinians and expressions of condemnation from many American allies who worried about further violence that could destabilize the fragile region. Trump said that his administration’s peace plan, in part helmed by his son-in-law senior adviser Jared Kushner, would be released in the coming months.


Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press contributed to the contents of this report.

trumpangryatun

LOCKED AND LOADED: Trump says US military ‘ready if necessary’ after pulling out of North Korea summit

Washington, D.C. (Fox News) — Minutes after pulling out of a highly anticipated summit with North Korea, President Trump said Thursday that the U.S. would continue its “maximum pressure campaign,” and warned that the military was “ready if necessary” — but made clear that a summit could still go forward if Kim Jong Un is willing to engage constructively.

“Our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world … is ready if necessary,” Trump said.

“Likewise, I’ve spoken with South Korea and Japan, and they are not only ready should foolish or reckless acts be taken by North Korea, but they’re willing to shoulder much of the costs associated by operations if such an unfortunate situation is forced upon us,” he added.

He said that the “very strong sanctions” and the “maximum pressure campaign will continue.”

However, the president clearly left open the possibility of the scheduled summit taking place, despite his letter to Kim Jong Un canceling talks following threats of nuclear action from the rogue regime.

“Hopefully,” he said, “everything is going to work out well with North Korea. A lot of things can happen, including the fact—it’s possible the existing summit could take place, or a summit at a later date.”

Trump added: “Nobody should be anxious. We have to get it right.”

The move to pull out of the summit, which had been slated to take place in Singapore on June 12, came after threats from Kim to call off the talks. In a letter to Kim on Thursday, Trump said the world, and North Korea, had lost a “great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity.”

“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 on Thursday. “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.”

North Korea has for days questioned whether the summit would proceed as planned.

On Thursday, Vice Minister of the North Korean Foreign Ministry Choe Son Hui said that whether the U.S. “will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

The official also insulted Vice President Pence after he said North Korea had asked for the meeting. “As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice president,” Choe reportedly said.

But officials told Fox News it was the threat of nuclear war — not the insult to Pence — that had led to the summit pullout.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who met with Trump at the White House on Monday, convened an emergency meeting with top security aides on Thursday following Trump’s announcement, and expressed “deep regret” over the canceled U.S.-North Korea summit.

According to Yonhap, Moon urged the two leaders to engage in direct talks.

We “are trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it,” presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom reportedly said.

Moon said the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should not be delayed.

The Trump-Kim summit was set to come on the heels of a “historic meeting” between North and South Korea last month, when the leaders from those two nations pledged to clear the peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Moon and Kim announced they would work to achieve a “nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” and also expressed hope to officially end the 1950-53 Korean War by the end of the year, though it is not clear at this point what steps the leaders might take to achieve denuclearization.

“KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” Trump tweeted last month.

The leaders had agreed that by May 1, the loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts that had been blaring from each side of the heavily armed border would be suspended. They agreed to also dismantle broadcasting equipment and stop flying propaganda leaflets across their border.

Kim also promised Moon that he “won’t interrupt” his “early morning sleep anymore,” referring to missile tests, South Korea said.

But Kim’s tune changed last week; he canceled a high-level summit with Moon following U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which the state-run Korean media outlet suggested were a rehearsal for a potential invasion of the North.

lockedandloaded

 

 

 

TRUMP: North Korea summit ‘may not work out’ as planned

Washington, D.C. (The Hill) — President Trump on Tuesday said his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may not take place in June, raising further doubt about whether the historic meeting would occur.

“There’s a very substantial chance that it won’t work out, and that’s OK,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “That doesn’t mean it won’t work out over a period of time, but it may not work out for June 12.”

Trump spoke during a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose government has helped broker nuclear diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea. Moon’s visit comes three weeks before the scheduled Trump-Kim summit in Singapore.

Moon said the “fate and the future” of the Korean Peninsula depend on the talks. South Korea has urged Trump to resolve the nuclear crisis with Kim through talks.

But North Korea threw the nuclear summit into doubt last week when it scrapped high-level talks with South Korea and threatened to pull out of the talks with Trump if the U.S. continues to demand unilateral denuclearization.

North Korean officials also lashed out at Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who suggested a North Korean arms deal could follow a “Libya model.”

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2003 surrendered his nuclear and chemical weapons in exchange for sanctions relief, but eight years later, was toppled by NATO-backed rebel forces.

Trump said Kim is “serious” about denuclearization and stressed that the North Korean leader’s safety would be ensured under any deal that eliminates his nuclear weapons.

“We will guarantee his safety,” Trump said, adding that if the U.S. and North Korea strike a deal, Kim would “be very proud” of what he did for his country.

The president also suggested North Korea’s neighbors would be willing to boost economic assistance efforts under a proposed deal.

“South Korea, China and Japan … they will be willing to help, and I believe invest very, very large sums of money to make North Korea great,” he said.

But Trump attributed North Korea’s harder line to a trip Kim took to China earlier this month in the run-up to the summit.

“There was a little change in attitude from Kim Jong Un,” he said.

The president also urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to remain committed to his goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, expressing hope it could influence Kim to remain willing to enter negotiations.

“I think that President Xi is a world-class poker player,” Trump said. “I can’t say that I’m happy about it.”

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