Washington: Five days before meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, US President Donald Trump said the unprecedented summit was “all ready to go,” as he welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House.
Trump and Abe were to hold a joint press conference at the White House at about 2:00 pm (1800 GMT), before heading to Canada for what promises to be a tense Group of Seven summit clouded by the US leader’s aggressive trade policies.
But before tackling the thorny trade issue, Trump expressed unbridled optimism about his June 12 tete-a-tete with Kim in Singapore.
“The summit is all ready to go,” Trump said, with Abe at his side. “It’s going to be much more than a photo op.” Since the first inkling that a Trump-Kim summit could be on the cards, Japan has repeatedly insisted that Washington be mindful not to let its guard down with the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang.
And by coming to Washington to see Trump for the second time in less than two months, Abe wants to be sure to get his point across to the US president, amid the intense diplomatic flurry over the future of the Korean peninsula.
Before leaving Tokyo, the Japanese leader emphasized that during his lightning visit to Washington, he hoped to “closely coordinate and agree” with Trump on an approach to the North Korea issue.
He clearly outlined what would need to happen for the summit to be a success: tangible progress on curbing the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as answers about Japanese nationals kidnapped by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s.
During their last meeting at Trump’s Florida retreat in April, the US president promised Abe to raise the politically sensitive abductions issue in any talks with Pyongyang.
But the subject is hardly a priority for the businessman-turned-president, whose strategy appears to be in constant flux. Above all, Trump seems most enthused by the notion of being the first sitting US leader to hold direct talks with a scion of the ruling Kim dynasty.
The intensifying diplomacy on North Korea has so far left Abe as the odd man out: Trump is preparing to meet Kim, while Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in have each already seen the North’s leader twice.
Pakistan Taliban chief targeted in US drone strike in Afghanistan
New York: A senior United States military official has confirmed that a drone strike conducted by American forces has targeted terrorist Mullah Fazalullah, the leader of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, in Afghanistan’s Kunar province near the border with Pakistan.
”The drone strike was conducted in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, targeting Maulana Fazlullah’s hideout,” Lieutenant Colonel Martin O’Donnell told Voice of America (VOA).
The US military also later confirmed that it carried out a strike targeting Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, where Pakistani Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah is believed to be hiding.
“US forces conducted a counter-terrorism strike on June 13 in Kunar province, close to the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which targeted a senior leader of a designated terrorist organisation,” Lieutenant Colonel Martin O’Donnell said in a statement.
It added that US forces were continuing to “adhere to a ceasefire” which Kabul has entered into with the Afghan Taliban, the country’s main insurgents, seemingly ruling out that group, amid US media reports the attack had targeted Fazlullah.
The US State Department in March announced a USD 5 million reward for help locating the militant leader, who has been linked to bloody attacks in Pakistan and 2010 attempted Times Square car bombing in New York.
It said the group, also known by its Urdu name Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) has “demonstrated a close alliance with al Qaeda” and said it had given explosives training to Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber.
The group was behind the massacre of more than 150 people at a Peshawar school in December 2014, and nine dead in another attack in December 2017 in the same city.
It was also responsible for the October 2012 shooting of Malala Yousafzai, who became a global symbol of the fight for girls’ rights to schooling.
According to Pakistani officials, Fazlullah, who is believed to be in his forties, took refuge in Afghanistan after the TTP was pushed out of Pakistan following multiple offensives by the military on its safe havens.
Toll in Nicaragua protests reaches 155
Managua:The death toll in Nicaragua from protests against President Daniel Ortega’s rule has increased to 155 after a 15-year-old boy was shot dead, authorities said.
The Catholic Church on Thursday mourned the death of the young altar boy, who fell victim to a surprise attack by “paramilitaries” of the government, reports Efe news.
“The message that has just arrived has made me cry, God has welcomed Sandor Dolmus, an altar boy murdered today by paramilitaries in Leon, to the altar of heaven,” said Bishop Silvio Baez.
The altar boy was with other children and neighbours, when the paramilitary group left the headquarters of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and sprayed bullets at them, priest Victor Morales of the diocese of Leon told reporters.
The young man was shot in the chest with a high-caliber firearm and died a few minutes later, the priest said.
Dolmus was an altar boy at the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in Leon, classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
In addition to the deaths, some 1,000 people had been injured during the civil unrest which began on April 18.
Ortega’s government, which has ruled for the past 11 years, blames opposition political groups for the “criminal violence” and denied reports of “riot squads or paramilitary groups linked to the government” who protesters blame for the deaths.
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