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NKorean leader reportedly committed to 2nd summit with Trump

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NKorean leader reportedly committed to 2nd summit with Trump

BEIJING (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly told the leader of his only major ally, China, that he is committed to setting up a second summit with President Donald Trump to “achieve results” on the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula.

The comments, contained in reports Thursday from Chinese and North Korean state media, came after Kim left Beijing on his special armored train for Pyongyang after a two-day visit to the Chinese capital.

Kim’s trip to China — his fourth in the past 10 months — is believed to be an effort to coordinate with Beijing ahead of a possible second summit with Trump. It comes after U.S. and North Korean officials are thought to have met in Vietnam to discuss the site of the summit.

Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his trip, Chinese and North Korea state media reported Thursday. It wasn’t clear from the reports if Kim was in back in the North, but his train presumably would arrive sometime Thursday.

Xi was quoted as saying that China supports the U.S.-North Korea summits and hopes the two sides “will meet each other halfway.” The North said in its report that Xi accepted an invitation to visit North Korea, although details of when he might come were not given.

Kim reportedly said North Korea “will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation, and make efforts for the second summit between (North Korean) and U.S. leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community.”

Trump and Kim met in Singapore in June for the first-ever leaders’ meeting between their nations, but there has been a standoff ever since, with dueling accusations of bad faith.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said Kim visited a technology development zone in China and spent around 20-30 minutes touring a factory run by famed traditional Chinese medicine maker Tong Ren Tang.

North Korean and Chinese state media announced his visit shortly in advance of his arrival in Beijing, in a break with standard protocol dictating such trips are only confirmed after they happen.

Yonhap said Kim met with Xi for about an hour on Tuesday and later attended a dinner at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing hosted by Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan. Kim was accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, the news agency said.

At Tuesday’s daily Foreign Ministry briefing, spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing remains supportive of efforts to end tensions over U.S. demands for a halt to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“We always believe that, as key parties to the Korean Peninsula issue, it’s important for the two sides to maintain contact and we always support their dialogue to achieve positive outcomes,” Lu said.

Tuesday was Kim’s birthday. His visit is also seen as part of an effort to win Chinese support for a reduction of U.N. sanctions imposed over his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, which have severely impacted his country’s already ailing economy.

While North Korea hasn’t conducted any launches or detonations in more than a year, it’s displayed no real intention of abandoning the programs that are seen as guaranteeing the government’s survival.

Kim’s visit also came after he expressed frustration in his annual New Year’s address over the lack of progress in negotiations with Washington since the Singapore summit with Trump in June, saying that if things don’t improve — meaning that if sanctions relief and security guarantees aren’t in the offing — Pyongyang might have to find “a new way” forward.

While Trump says he considers Xi key to enticing Kim into taking concrete steps toward denuclearization, the president’s own relationship with his Chinese counterpart has frayed over the U.S.-China trade war.

Officially, at least, China says it considers the tariff battle and North Korea’s weapons programs to be entirely separate.

___

Associated Press writers Foster Klug and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.

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Foreign Affairs

Here’s hoping there’s a plan we don’t know about with North Korea

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Heres hoping theres a plan we dont know about with North Korea

In a move that many, including supporters on the right, are calling a move of weakness, the President reversed the Treasury Department’s additional sanctions on North Korea.

My Take

I’m just not sure what to make of this. I understand many have been concerned about how nicely the President has treated Kim Jong un, but I’ve always felt there was some sort of plan happening behind the scenes that would justify it. Now, I’m not so sure.

This move emboldens Kim to continue avoiding any compromise on his nuclear weapons program. It tells him and the rest of the world President Trump isn’t going to be playing hardball and intends to coax the North Korean dictator into signing some sort of agreement before the 2020 elections.

Dare I say, this seems very Obamaesque? Where’s the hardball? Where’s the threats against Rocketman? If there’s some sort of 4D chess being played in the background, I seriously hope we see it in play soon. This is a strange move.

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Mike Pompeo responds to Venezuela, Biden’s world tour, Hezbollah, and Israel

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Mike Pompeo responds to Venezuela Bidens world tour Hezbollah and Israel

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on Fox News last night to talk to Shannon Bream about the tumultuous state of affairs around the world and how the United States is handling them.

First, he discussed Venezuela and recent developments where Nicolas Maduro’s regime has essentially framed members of Juan Guaido’s team in an effort to jail and stop the opposition to his presidency there. The Secretary of State said they would hold Maduro’s regime accountable for their actions, but would not elaborate on how U.S. intervention in the poverty-torn nation would manifest.

He jabbed at potential Democratic 2020 candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is being allegedly courted by world leaders to run for the White House in hopes he could bring back proper relations. As Pompeo noted, our relations with world leaders is in a current state of positive action despite the President’s harsh stance with many of them.

As for Hezbollah, Pompeo said the U.S. would press Lebanon for the sake of its people to facilitate change from the anti-Israel, anti-American Hezbollah rule that has basically made the nation a pawn for Iran.

As for the Israel front. where Pompeo was speaking from, he said calls by people like Beto O’Rourke and others to undermine the conservative base shared by the United States and Israel would not help the situation. Only through the President’s peace plan can the Middle East move forward, according to Pompeo.

My Take

Until the Venezuelan government asks directly for help, there should be no action by the United States other than aid for the people. This is an internal affair. Just because the leadership is challenged doesn’t make it our problem. If there was ever a time when the United Nations should flex its puny muscles, that time is now and the place is Venezuela.

Any foreign leaders calling on Biden to replace Trump are doing so because they do not want the United States to continue to maintain and improve upon its position of strength on the world stage. They prefer the good ol’ days under President Obama when the United States was a pawn for many other nations.

Hezbollah must go. That’s not to say we need to be involved with that, but Lebanon will never be free and prosperous as long as they’re the proxy for Iran.

Lastly, the Secretary of State seemed to be echoing a notion that the President would push for a 2-state solution. If that’s the case, it’s a huge mistake. Otherwise, Pompeo is correct in asserting the backwards notions of the Democrats lashing out against President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

We’re in a time when foreign affairs are starting to take center stage. Yes, we have problems of our own, but to ignore the growing threats abroad would be a mistake. It’s good the administration is handling these issues.

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Kudos to the President for calling on the U.S. to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights

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Kudos to the President for calling on the US to recognize Israels sovereignty over the Golan Heights

It’s always hard to tell where the administration may be going following policy Tweets from the President. He’s been known to say one thing, then the administration slowly shifts reality away from the initial intent of the Tweet. On the other hand, many of his Tweets have turned into policy. It’s just a matter of waiting and seeing what the official word from the White House is.

In this case, it’s the President’s bold declaration that the Golan Heights, considered by enemies of Israel to be disputed territory, is actually sovereign Israeli land. As he noted in the Tweet, this is long overdue.

Considering the stances the President has been taking on Twitter this week with sustained attacks on George Conway and John McCain, this is a breath of fresh air. If Israel ever gave up he Golan Heights, they would be losing one of the most important strategic areas through which enemy militaries could easily become entrenched and launch attacks that would be difficult for Israel to counter. While the IDF enjoys technological advances over their enemies, terrain and proximity are still major factors in the defense of their lands. The Golan Heights represents a piece of land that must never be given easy access to their enemies.

There’s one important caveat to the kudos I’m giving the President. If it turns out acknowledgement of the Golan Heights as sovereign territory is used as a precursor to asking Israel to give up the West Bank in a Middle East peace agreement, then it’s a whole other situation entirely. Just as giving up the Golan Heights would make Israel a very easy target, so too would the idea of a two state solution that grants “Palestine” control over the West Bank.

If the motives are pure, this is a great move. If this is an early olive branch, it’s dangerous.

Israel’s control of the Golan Heights is absolutely essential to its security. The lands just south would be completely indefensible if the United Nations ever got its way and the Golan Heights fell under control of Israel’s enemies.

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