Trump returns to White House after summit collapse clouds future of U.S.-North Korea nuclear diplomacy

Robie de Guzman   •   March 1, 2019   •   3638

President Trump returns to White House on Thursday (February 28) following his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam. | Reuters

(REUTERS) — U.S. President Donald Trump returned to Washington D.C. Thursday (February 28) from Hanoi, Vietnam after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed over sanctions, and the two sides gave conflicting accounts of what happened, raising questions about the future of their denuclearisation negotiations.

Trump said two days of talks in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi had made good progress in building relations and on the main issue of denuclearisation, but it was important not to rush into a bad deal. He said he had walked away because of unacceptable North Korean demands.

“It was all about the sanctions,” Trump told a news conference after the talks were cut short. “Basically, they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety, and we couldn’t do that.”

However, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told a news conference past midnight and hours after Trump left Hanoi that North Korea had sought only a partial lifting of sanctions “related to people’s livelihoods and unrelated to military sanctions”.

He said it had offered a realistic proposal involving the dismantling of all of its main nuclear site at Yongbyon, including plutonium and uranium facilities, by engineers from both countries.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told the same briefing she had the impression that Kim “might lose his willingness to pursue a deal” after the U.S. side rejected a partial lifting of sanctions in return for destruction of Yongbyon, “something we had never offered before”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, asked about North Korea’s statements, said the president was aware of the comments and the White House had nothing to add to what Trump said at the Hanoi news conference.

US gov’t sends additional P950 million aid for Odette-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The United States (US) government is allocating an additional P950 million ($19 million) in humanitarian assistance for communities affected by Typhoon Odette, its embassy in the Philippines said Wednesday.

In a statement, the embassy said the latest fund allocation brings the total US support to the Philippines to more than P1 billion ($20.2 million).

“The United States is pleased to announce an additional and significant assistance of P950 million, which brings our total amount of aid for Typhoon Odette to over P1 billion,” said U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) ad interim Heather Variava.

“We stand steadfast with our longstanding friend, partner, and ally in helping support communities devastated by the typhoon,” she added.

With this assistance, the US gov’t through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide food aid; water, sanitation, and hygiene programs to help keep people healthy; and shelter assistance to meet emergency needs and help affected communities start rebuilding their homes.

“This additional assistance will help deliver food and hygiene supplies, and provide life-saving support to those most in need,” the embassy said.

The P950 million funding is in addition to the P50 million ($1 million) announced earlier this week to support emergency logistics efforts to ensure aid is delivered to those in hard-to-reach areas.

This assistance also builds on the P10 million ($200,000) relief assistance that USAID provided immediately after the storm.

The embassy said Variava plans to visit communities affected by Typhoon Odette and see ongoing U.S. relief activities.

Since 2010, USAID has provided more than P17 billion ($340 million) in disaster relief and recovery aid, and boosted the disaster risk reduction capacity of over 100 cities and municipalities in the Philippines.

 

Duterte to join democracy summit hosted by US – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the “Summit for Democracy” to be hosted by the United States government this week, Malacañang said.

In a statement, the Office of the President said Duterte will join the summit set on December 9 to 10 “upon the invitation of US President Joe Biden.”

“President Biden has invited heads of state and government, other government leaders and voices from the business and nongovernment sectors to join the US in taking action to strengthen democracy,” the Palace said.

Malacañang said Duterte “has accepted” Biden’s invitation.

“President Duterte likewise welcomes the opportunity to share the Philippine democratic experience and commitment to democratic values and nation-building at the Summit for Democracy,” it added.

Biden will convene world leaders from government, the private sector, business and the civil society in the virtual summit. It will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and will provide a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad, according to the US State Department.

The summit has three key themes: Defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.

The United States said the summit will offer an opportunity to listen, learn, and engage with a diverse range of actors whose support and commitment is critical for global democratic renewal.

US reopens borders to foreign tourists after 20 months

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 8, 2021

The United States (US) has reopened its land and air borders to fully vaccinated foreign visitors after a 20-month travel restriction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US will lift its travel ban on 30 countries but will still implement strict regulations for foreign individuals arriving in the country. Passengers will be required be tested within three days before travel and will have to present negative Covid-19 test results. Unvaccinated travelers, meanwhile, will be allowed entry to the US as long as it falls under ‘essential trips’.

US borders were closed after March 2020 to travelers from large parts of the world, including the Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Britain and China, India and Brazil. AAC

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