US-North Korea Summit Minutiae to Be Revealed Soon

The US special representative on North Korea, Stephen Biegun, was to say in a speech Thursday that the United States remains “clear-eyed” and wants a firm accounting of Pyongyang’s weapons programs as part of any deal.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said the details of his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be announced next week — and that a date and place had been settled.

“We’re going to announce it very soon. We’ll be announcing early next week and they very much want the meeting,” Trump told reporters in the White House.

“I think most of you know where the location is. I don’t think it’s a great secret,” he added, touting what he called the “tremendous progress” made with Pyongyang.

Trump held a historic first summit with Kim in Singapore last June to try to persuade the reclusive North Korean strongman to give up the country’s nuclear weapons.

The American president has come under fire at home from critics who say that Kim has not taken enough concrete steps toward denuclearization to be given a second summit.

“Before the process of denuclearization can be final, we must have a complete understanding of the full extent of the North Korean WMD and missile programs through a comprehensive declaration,” Biegun was to say in a speech at Stanford University, according to excerpts.

“We must reach agreement on expert access and monitoring mechanisms of key sites to international standards, and ultimately ensure the removal or destruction of stockpiles of fissile material, weapons, missiles, launchers and other weapons of mass destruction.”

If North Korea follows through, “the United States, will, in return, exceed anything previously thought possible,” Biegun was to say.

US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Tuesday that North Korea would resist pressure because its leaders see nuclear weapons capability as “critical to regime survival.”

Trump on Thursday pushed back against intelligence leaders who publicly disagree with his foreign policy positions on North Korea, Iran and Syria.

“I disagree with certain things that they said, I think I’m right,” he said. “Time will prove me right probably.”

Election Campaign Is in Full Swing in US

Trump, a Republican, has strong backing from the politically influential US evangelical movement, which early on decided to overlook multiple lurid reports regarding his private life.

President Donald Trump has plenty of detractors, but for spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, he has support from above.

“I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president,” Sanders says in an interview to be aired by the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“Don’t Help Elect Trump” Was the Rallying Cry At the Former Starbucks CEO

A day after Howard Schultz said he might run for U.S. president, a heckler shouted “don’t help elect Trump” at the former Starbucks CEO, voicing concerns that his independent bid could help President Donald Trump win re-election in 2020.

In an interview with CBS’ “60 minutes” aired on Sunday, Schultz said he was seriously thinking of running as a centrist independent in 2020.

Democrats immediately urged Schultz to think again, saying he would take votes away from the Democratic Party nominee.

“Don’t help elect Trump, you egotistical, billionaire, a****le,” shouted the heckler at a Schultz book promotion in New York City on Monday.

“Go back to Davos with the rest of the billionaire elite who think they know how to run the world,” the heckler added, before being pulled aside by security.

In an on-stage interview at the book event, Schultz was asked if he would drop out of the 2020 race if polls showed his candidacy would help re-elect Trump.

“If I decide to run for president as an independent, I will believe, and have the courage and conviction to believe, that I can win,” Schultz said. “I’m certainly not going to do anything to put Donald Trump back in the oval office.”

Schultz described himself as a “lifelong Democrat,” but said Americans were tired of the “revenge politics” of the Republican and Democratic parties.

No independent candidate has ever won a U.S. presidential election, although some have played the role of third-party spoiler.

Political Spat in US on its Highest Gear

The ongoing battle over what is usually a mundane process is unfolding as little progress is being made toward ending the partial shutdown that began Dec. 22. The Senate on Tuesday teed up votes for later this week on dueling measures to reopen shuttered federal agencies, although neither bill is expected to advance.

President Donald Trump is preparing two versions of the speech – one that could be delivered in Washington and another that would be held somewhere else in the country, depending on the circumstance, according to a senior White House official. Meanwhile, the administration is trying to conduct advance work to prepare for an address in the House chamber, originally scheduled for Jan. 29, even though Pelosi has the power to determine whether Trump can do so.

The White House is forging ahead with State of the Union preparations despite no commitment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to hold the annual address at the Capitol, further escalating the political tit-for-tat between the two leaders as the federal government remains partially shuttered.

“Nancy Pelosi does not dictate to the president when he will or will not have a conversation with the American people,” a White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said Tuesday to media. “The President has an incredible story to tell about how far we’ve come in this country economically, in a national security capacity.”

Gidley accused Pelosi of “trying to play politics with that venue.”

Last week, the House speaker sent a letter to Trump, requesting he postpone the State of the Union, citing security concerns related to the impact of the budget impasse on the Homeland Security Department. Postponing or canceling the address during the shutdown standoff would also deny Trump the pomp and circumstance of the annual event where president’s lay out their agenda for the coming year before a national audience.

Trump Eggs on Democrats for Mexican Border Wall Financing

The president Trump called for $800 million in “urgent humanitarian assistance” and $805 million for drug detection technology to help secure US ports of entry.

US President Donald Trump on Saturday offered to temporarily shield a million immigrants from deportation if Congress authorizes funding for his Mexican border wall — an idea Democrats rejected, making the US government shutdown likely to grind on.

Trump attempted to seize the initiative in ending the 29-day partial shutdown, a funding freeze that has left many important government departments relying on unpaid or highly reduced staff.

His bargain, announced in a televised White House address, held out the carrot of protection from deportation for two categories of immigrants.

These include 700,000 so-called “Dreamers,” children of people who settled illegally in the United States, and who have become a favorite cause of the Democrats, as well as 300,000 other immigrants whose protected status is expiring, Trump said.

The president said these concessions would “build the trust and goodwill necessary to begin real immigration reform.”

In return, Trump demanded the $5.7 billion he says is needed to extend fences on the border with Mexico, something the opposition Democrats have repeatedly refused to authorize. That has prompted the president to retaliate with the government shutdown, which he triggered by not signing off on funding to swaths of departments.

“I’m here today to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown and solve the crisis on the southern border,” Trump said in his address.

Trump describes the US-Mexico border — for decades a magnet for migrants and asylum seekers, as well as a major drug smuggling route — as overwhelmed, posing a threat to US national security.

Democrats, who accuse Trump of using his illegal immigration crackdown to score political points with his right-wing base, spurned the latest negotiating offer as soon as it was leaked in the media prior to the speech.

Turkey Gets Intimidation from President Donald Trump

Turkey had reacted angrily to suggestions that Trump’s plan to withdraw troops was conditional on the safety of the US-backed Kurdish fighters, seen by the Turkish government as terrorists.

President Donald Trump warned Turkey on Sunday of economic devastation if it attacks Kurdish forces in the wake of the US troop pullout from Syria, while also urging the Kurds not to “provoke” Ankara.

Trump took to Twitter to reveal some of his latest thoughts in the slow drip-drip of information being released by his administration after his shocking December announcement of the troop withdrawal.

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo is on a whirlwind regional tour aimed at reassuring allies amid rising tensions between the US and Turkey over the fate of Washington’s Syrian Kurdish allies in the fight against the ISIS.

Pompeo also sought to reassure Washington’s Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS, who fear the departure of American troops would allow Turkey to attack them.

“Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” Trump tweeted, while pushing for the creation of a 20-mile (30-kilometer) “safe zone.”

“Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.”

Trump did not detail who would create, enforce or pay for the safe zone, or where it would be located.

US-led operations against ISIS in Syria have been spearheaded on the ground by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Ankara sees the backbone of that alliance, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) which has fought a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

An estimated 2,000 civilians remain trapped in the area around the town of Hajin, the United Nations said.

Donald Trump Intimidated Against Declaring A State of Emergency

Trump only recently backed away from talk of an emergency declaration, after pressing it for days as a way out of the continuing budget standoff.

Democrats have strongly opposed the idea. The No. 2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, said Sunday on ABC that “if this president is going to turn to national emergencies every time he disagrees with Congress, I’m against it.”

Top Republican lawmakers on Sunday warned against Donald Trump declaring a national emergency to secure funds for a border wall, signaling doubts within the president’s party as a government shutdown was set to enter a fourth workweek. Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told CNN that he would “hate” to see Trump invoke emergency powers for a wall.

“If we do that, it’s going to go to court and the wall won’t get built,” he said.

And Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, told ABC, “We don’t want it to come down to a national emergency declaration,” even if he believes Trump has the authority to do so.

He urged Trump to “put an end to the shutdown and put everything on the table.”

As the partisan battle drags on, the effects of the partial shutdown have become steadily clearer, and new polls show growing public dissatisfaction. On Sunday, Trump acknowledged, at least indirectly, the mounting costs of the shutdown.

Opponents say such a unilateral presidential move would be constitutional overreach and set a dangerous precedent.

The partial shutdown became the longest on record at midnight Friday, when it overtook a 21-day stretch in 1995-1996 under president Bill Clinton.

President Donald Trump Inclines to Hold Off Declaration of A State of Emergency

The US government shutdown became the longest on record at midnight Friday, when it overtook a 21-day stretch in 1995-1996 under president Bill Clinton.

Trump fired off a series of tweets Saturday in an effort to defend his stance and goad Democrats to return to Washington and end what he called “the massive humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border.”

President Donald Trump said he was holding off on declaring a state of emergency to end the partial US government shutdown that dragged into a 23rd day Sunday, as he insisted on $5.7 billion to build a Mexico border wall that congressional Democrats oppose.

When asked by media why he didn’t immediately declare a national emergency to secure the funds without congressional approval, Trump said he wanted to give opposition Democratic lawmakers more time to strike a deal.

“I want to give them the chance to see if they can act responsibly,” he told Fox in an interview late Saturday.

“Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes!” he said in one tweet, adding in another, “We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their ‘vacations’ and get back to work. I am in the White House ready to sign!”

The impasse has paralyzed Washington — its impact felt increasingly around the country — with the president refusing to sign off on budgets for swaths of government departments unrelated to the dispute.

And most narcotics are smuggled through heavily guarded checkpoints in vehicles, the government’s Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2017 report.

Narendra Modi and Donald Trump Meeting on Indo-Us Ties Over Phone

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi late on Monday discussed over phone the prospects for increasing cooperation in Afghanistan, the India-US strategic partnership, trade deficit, cooperation in defence and security issues, according to statements from the two countries.

The call placed by Modi was one of the several that Trump received or made on the occasion of the start of the New Year, according to a statement from the White House.

The call to Trump follows one between Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin also on Monday and comes after the seeming belittling by the US President of India’s reconstruction efforts in war-torn Afghanistan. It also follows reports that the Trump administration has ordered the US military to start withdrawing roughly 7,000 troops from Afghanistan in what is being seen as “an abrupt shift” in the 17-year-old war there.

The conversations with Putin and Trump come ahead of the general elections in India, which are to take place in April-May. “These are two (US and Russia) major relationships” with key partners, said a person familiar with the development. Modi had met Putin in May in Sochi and Trump in December in a trilateral meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina, said the person mentioned above. “The calls are aimed at ensuring that there is no let-up in the momentum of ties that have been developed” as India goes in for general elections, the person said.

The two leaders “expressed satisfaction at the progress in India-US strategic partnership in 2018. They appreciated developments such as the launch of the new 2+2 dialogue mechanism and the first-ever trilateral summit of India, the US and Japan”, the Indian foreign ministry said.

“The two leaders took positive note of growing bilateral cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism and energy and coordination on regional and global issues. They agreed to continue to work together for strengthening India-US bilateral relations in 2019,” it said.

The two leaders “exchanged perspectives on how to reduce the US trade deficit with India, expand security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and increase cooperation in Afghanistan,” according to a White House statement.

Trump has been seeking a more active role for India in Afghanistan which would go beyond reconstruction and include deployment of troops to fight the Taliban. In recent remarks, seen as scornful of India’s efforts at helping Afghanistan rebuild infrastructure, Trump had said that a library reportedly built in Afghanistan by India was not being used by anyone