Pompeo visits North Korea, forms ‘good relationship with Kim’, says Trump

UNTV News   •   April 18, 2018   •   2877

FILE PHOTO: A combination photo shows CIA Director Mike Pompeo (L) in Washington, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) in Pyongyang, North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump (R), in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., respectively from Reuters files. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (L) & KCNA handout via Reuters & Kevin Lamarque (R)

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) – CIA director Mike Pompeo, U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee to become the top U.S. diplomat, visited North Korea last week and met leader Kim Jong Un with whom he formed a “good relationship”, Trump said on Wednesday.

Pompeo became the most senior U.S. official known to have met Kim when he visited Pyongyang to discuss a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!” Trump said on Twitter.

Pompeo’s visit and the Tweet provide the strongest sign yet about Trump’s willingness to become the first serving U.S. president ever to meet a North Korean leader, amid a protracted standoff over the North’s nuclear and missile programs it pursues in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

U.S. officials said earlier Pompeo visited over the Easter weekend, March 31 to April 2. Representatives for the White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to a query on the exact date of the meeting with Kim.

At the same time, old rivals North Korea and South Korea are preparing for their own summit, between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, on April 27, with a bid to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War a major factor in talks.

“As one of the plans, we are looking at a possibility of shifting the Korean peninsula’s armistice to a peace regime,” a top South Korean presidential official told reporters in Seoul earlier on Wednesday when asked about the North-South summit.

“But that’s not a matter than can be resolved between the two Koreas alone. It requires close consultations with other concerned nations, as well as North Korea,” the official said.

South Korea and a U.S.-led U.N. force are technically still at war with North Korea after the Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. The U.S.-led United Nations Command, Chinese forces and North Korea signed the 1953 armistice, to which South Korea is not a party.

“I do not know if any joint statement to be reached at the inter-Korean summit would include wording about ending the war, but we certainly hope to be able to include an agreement to end hostile acts between the South and North,” the official said.

Trump said on Tuesday he backed efforts between North and South Korea aimed at ending the state of war.

Such discussions between the two Koreas, and between North Korea and the United States, would have been unthinkable at the end of last year, after months of escalating tension, and fear of war, over the North’s weapons programs.

But then Kim declared in a New Year’s speech his country was “a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power” and called for lower military tension and improved ties with the South.

He also said he was considering sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February, a visit that began a succession of steps to improve ties.

But finance ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries said in a statement they were still concerned about North Korea’s evasion of sanctions and its “ability to access the international financial system”.

CHINA’S XI TO VISIT PYONGYANG?

Pompeo’s visit to the North was arranged by South Korean intelligence chief Suh Hoon with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, and was intended to assess whether Kim was prepared to hold serious talks, a U.S. official said.

Pompeo flew from a U.S. air force base in Osan, south of Seoul, an official with the South’s defense ministry said. The South’s presidential office declined to comment on the trip.

Amid the diplomatic flurry, CNN reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping also planned to visit Pyongyang soon, after North Korean leader Kim made a surprise trip last month to China, its major sole ally.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had no information about any Xi visit to North Korea.

“What I can stress is that China and North Korea have a tradition of high level mutual visits,” she told reporters.

“China is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with North Korea, deepen strategic communications, expand talks and cooperation, and to bring out the important leading role of high-level contact in China-North Korea relations.”

Trump said on Tuesday he believed there was a lot of goodwill in the diplomatic push with North Korea, but added it was possible the summit – first proposed in March and which the president said could take place in late May or early June – may not happen, in which case the United States and its allies would maintain pressure on North Korea through sanctions.

Nevertheless, Pompeo’s conversations in North Korea had fueled Trump’s belief that productive negotiations were possible, according to a U.S. senior official briefed on the trip.

The two Koreas have meanwhile been pressing ahead with preparations for the inter-Korean summit next week.

South Korea’s presidential office said they had agreed to broadcast live, for the first time, parts of the summit, including the hand shake between the two leaders.

Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim and Joyce Lee in SEOUL, Susan Heavey, John Walcott and Steve Holland in WASHINGTON, and Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie

Embattled Facebook CEO Zuckerberg seeks to mend fences in Washington

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 20, 2019

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill for a second day on Thursday (September 19) as part of an effort by the social media giant to mend its reputation as it faces a slew of government investigations.

Zuckerberg, who is also Facebook’s founder, also has meetings planned for Friday on Capitol Hill. Discussions on Wednesday with lawmakers focused mainly on election security and data privacy concerns, sources close to the meetings said.

A person briefed on the matter said Zuckerberg was also expected to hold meetings with the Trump administration. Facebook and the White House both declined to say if Zuckerberg would meet with President Donald Trump. (REUTERS)

(Production: David Shepardson, Scott Vaughan)

Trump says Saudi oil attacks won’t affect the United States

Robie de Guzman   •   September 17, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday (September 16) said it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants in Saudi Arabia at the weekend that raised fears of a fresh Middle East conflict, but added that he did not want war with anyone.

Asked by a reporter if he can trust Saudi Arabia, Trump said: “Oh I think so, they want to find out also, and I think they probably feel they know but we are going to know very quickly. We have pretty much all the material we need, we’ll know very quickly.”

Iran has rejected U.S. charges it was to blame for the attacks which damaged the world’s biggest crude processing plant in Saudi Arabia and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.

Several U.S. Cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, have blamed Tehran for the strikes. Trump told reporters that he agrees with Pompeo on Iran responsibility for Saudi attacks.

The attacks cut 5% of world crude oil production and sent oil prices soaring. Trump said that the oil attack won’t affect the United States. (Reuters)

(Production: Temis Tormo)

Trump says Iran appears to be culprit for Saudi oil attacks

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 17, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday (September 16) said it looked like Iran was behind attacks on oil plants in Saudi Arabia at the weekend that raised fears of a fresh Middle East conflict, but added that he did not want war with anyone.

Iran has rejected U.S. charges it was to blame for the attacks which damaged the world’s biggest crude processing plant in Saudi Arabia and triggered the largest jump in crude prices in decades.

Several U.S. cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, have blamed Tehran for the strikes.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying the strikes were carried out by “Yemeni people” retaliating for attacks by a Saudi-led military coalition in a war with Yemen’s Houthi movement.

Asked by a reporter in the White House if Iran was behind the attacks, Trump said: “It’s certainly looking that way at this moment and we’ll let you know. As soon as we find out definitively we’ll let you know but it does look that way.”

The attacks cut 5% of world crude oil production.

Two sources briefed on state oil company Saudi Aramco’s operations told Reuters it might take months for Saudi oil production to return to normal. Earlier estimates had suggested it could take weeks.

Tension in the oil-producing Gulf region has dramatically escalated this year after Trump imposed severe U.S. sanctions on Iran aimed at halting its oil exports altogether.

The U.S. leader said he did not want to act hastily.

“We have a lot of options but I’m not looking at options right now we want to find definitively who did this. We’re dealing with Saudi Arabia. We’re dealing with the crown prince and other of your neighbors. And we’re all talking about it together. We’ll see what happens,” he said.

Trump downplayed the impact of a spike in oil prices in the wake of the attacks on Saudi oil plants, saying prices had not risen much and that the United States and other countries could offset the increase by releasing more supply.

“They haven’t risen very much and we have the strategic oil reserves, which are massive, and we can release a little bit of that, and other countries … can be a little bit more generous with the oil, and you’d bring it right down,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he met with Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. (REUTERS)

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