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SINGAPORE, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) -- President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un concluded an extraordinary summit Tuesday with lofty promises by the American president to take care of a "very dangerous problem" and Kim forecasting "major change for the world."

They signed a document that Trump described as "pretty comprehensive," but he declined to describe it, saying the details would be revealed later.

The document signing followed a series of meetings at a luxury Singapore resort.

SINGAPORE, June 11, 2018 (News Wires) - US President Donald Trump said on Monday his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore could “work out very nicely” as officials from both countries met to narrow differences on how to end a nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula.

Kim and Trump arrived in the tropical city-state on Sunday for the first ever face-to-face meeting by leaders of two countries that have been enemies since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

With gaps remaining over what denuclearisation would entail, officials from both sides held two hours of talks to push the agenda forward ahead of Tuesday’s summit.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the meetings were “substantive and detailed” but there was no immediate word on what the outcome was.

Trump sounded a positive note in a lunch meeting with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“We’ve got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I just think it’s going to work out very nicely,” Trump said.

He also told Lee: “We appreciate your hospitality and professionalism and friendship...You’re my friend.”

Trump and Kim are staying in separate hotels in the famous Orchard Road area of Singapore, dotted with high-rise luxury apartment blocks, offices and glittering shopping malls. Traffic was held up in the steamy midday sun and scores of bystanders were penned in by police when Trump went to meet Lee.

Similar scenes were seen on Sunday when Kim and Trump arrived in the city, and when Kim went to meet Lee. Entry to their hotels is extremely restricted.

Commenting for the first time on the summit, North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency earlier said the two sides would exchange “wide-ranging and profound views” to re-set relations. It heralded the summit as part of a “changed era”.

Discussions would focus on “the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula, the issue of realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern,” KCNA said.

In the lead up to the summit, North Korea rejected any unilateral nuclear disarmament, and KCNA’s reference to denuclearisation of the peninsula has historically meant that Pyongyang wants the United States to remove its “nuclear umbrella” protecting South Korea and Japan.

Pompeo said in an earlier tweet that Washington was “committed to the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

Many experts on North Korea, one of the most insular and unpredictable countries in the world, remain skeptical Kim will ever completely abandon nuclear weapons. They believe Kim’s latest engagement is aimed at getting the United States to ease the crippling sanctions that have squeezed the impoverished country.

A Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US side was entering the talks with a sense of optimism and an equal dose of scepticism given North Korea’s long history of developing nuclear weapons.

“We will not be surprised by any scenario,” said the official.

The official said Trump and Kim would hold a one-on-one meeting on Tuesday that could last up to two hours. He described it as a “get to know you plus” meeting.

Later, a meeting including officials could last another hour.

The summit’s venue is the Capella hotel on Sentosa, a resort island off Singapore’s port with luxury hotels, a Universal Studios theme park and man-made beaches.

Trump, speaking in Canada on Saturday, said any agreement at the summit would be “spur of the moment,” underscoring the uncertain outcome of what he called a “mission of peace”.

He initially touted the potential for a grand bargain with North Korea to rid itself of a nuclear missile program that has advanced rapidly to threaten the United States.

But he has since lowered expectations, backing away from an original demand for North Korea’s swift denuclearisation.

He has said the talks would be more about starting a relationship with Kim for a negotiating process that would take more than one summit.

LA MALBAIE, Quebec, June 10, 2018 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday threw the G7’s efforts to show a united front into disarray after he became angry with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and said he might double down on import tariffs by hitting the sensitive auto industry.

Trump’s bombshell announcement that he was backing out of the Group of Seven communique, made after he left the summit in Canada early, torpedoed what appeared to be a fragile consensus on the trade dispute between Washington and its top allies.

“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, ‘US Tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!” the U.S. president tweeted.

In his press conference, Trudeau had spoken of retaliatory measures that Canada would take next month in response to Trump’s decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

“Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau, the host of the two-day summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, told reporters.

Reacting to Trump’s tweets, Trudeau’s office said: “We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the summit. The Prime Minister said nothing he hasn’t said before - both in public, and in private conversations with the President.”

Trump’s salvo capped a dizzying two days of controversies that began with his suggestion Russia be readmitted to the G7, then what a French official described as a “rant” full of “recriminations” against U.S. trading partners, followed by Trump’s denial of any contention with leaders at the summit and his description of their relationship as a “10.”

By ordering his representatives to back out of the communique, Trump appeared to be asserting his oft-stated aim of upsetting the status quo whether by pulling out of the global climate accord or the international nuclear deal with Iran or threats to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The communique, which appeared to have papered over the cracks that have surfaced in the G7, said the leaders of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan agreed on the need for “free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade” and the importance of fighting protectionism.

“We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies,” the statement said.

Trump’s reversal, announced while he was en route to Singapore for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, sent his G7 partners scrambling.

“We stick to the communique as agreed by all participants,” a European official said on condition of anonymity.

Trump’s counterparts in the G7 had sought this week to try to find some semblance of consensus with Washington on trade and the other key issues that have formed the basis of the 42-year-old grouping of industrialized nations.

French President Emmanuel Macron had labeled the summit a success before Trump’s Twitter posts, saying there was relief within the G7 that an escalation of the trade dispute had been avoided.

“The nature of the debate we had was rather appeasement and it stopped the escalation in terms of behavior,” Macron, who had exchanged terse Twitter messages with Trump in the run-up to the summit, told reporters.

“It allowed a dialogue, where for weeks there were uncoordinated unilateral actions and non-cooperation.”

Macron is aware of the latest twist on the communique and does not have a comment at this time, a French presidential official said.

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2018 (News Wires) - President Donald Trump proposed the complete elimination of all barriers to international trade at a Group of Seven summit, a move that turns the tables on allies who accuse the US of wielding protectionist policies.

“No tariffs, no barriers, that’s the way it should be, and no subsidies,” Trump said during a 30-minute press conference on the sidelines of the meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec. “I did suggest it and people were - I guess they’re going to go back to the drawing board and check it out.”

White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow, who was invited by Trump to speak from the same podium, described the comments as Trump’s “free trade proclamation.”

The trade spat has dominated the meeting, with Canada and European leaders threatening retaliatory action in response to US tariffs on steel and aluminum. Trump fired back, saying the US had been duped for years by barriers and that any country that imposed its own measures would regret it.

“If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake,” Trump said.

QINGDAO, China, June 9, 2018 (News Wires) - Vienna is one of the cities being considered as the venue for a possible summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday.

Putin said last month that the proposed summit between him and Trump was not working out for now and was beset by problems.

Trump said in March that the two leaders would meet soon, but since then already poor ties between Washington and Moscow have deteriorated further over the conflict in Syria and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

 

 

 

LA MALBAIE, Quebec, June 8, 2018 (News Wires) - Solidifying his solo status on the world stage, President Donald Trump is lashing out at longtime allies over their critiques of his trade policies and plans an early exit from the annual Group of Seven meeting of industrialized nations.

Trump due to descend late Friday on the annual gathering, held this year at a Quebec resort, but will leave Saturday morning before the event is over, heading out to Singapore for his highly anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The White House announced his travel plans after French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signaled they will use the event to take a stance against new US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

"Looking forward to straightening out unfair Trade Deals with the G-7 countries," Trump tweeted early Friday. "If it doesn't happen, we come out even better."

Trump also singled out tariffs on US dairy products in yet another scathing tweet directed at Canada just before the summit begins.

At a joint press conference on Thursday, Macron stressed: "A trade war doesn't spare anyone. It will start first of all to hurt US workers." Trudeau said: "We are going to defend our industries and our workers."

Trudeau, for his part, said Trump's action would hurt American workers as well as Canadians.

"If I can get the president to actually realize that what he's doing is counterproductive for his own goals as well, perhaps we can move forward in a smarter way," Trudeau said.

As tempers frayed, Trump had a ready retort, via tweet: "Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the US massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the US is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow."

Later Thursday, Trump tweeted: "Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the US and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things...but he doesn't bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy - hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!"

A few hours later, he added, "Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!"

With a cool reception all but assured, Trump has complained to aides about even having to attend the meeting, especially since his summit with Kim is just days away. Late Thursday, the White House announced that Trump would be leaving the G-7 late Saturday morning to head to Singapore ahead of his summit with Kim, though the G-7 meeting was scheduled to last until later that day.

This marks Trump's second summit of the G-7, an informal gathering that meets every year under a rotating chairmanship. The member countries are Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, the United States and Britain. The European Union also attends. Trump is set to hold a series of group and one-on-one meetings, including with Trudeau and Macron.

Under Trump, the United States has abandoned its traditional role in the G-7. His predecessors pressed for freer global trade and championed a trading system that required countries to follow World Trade Organization rules. Trump's policies have been more protectionist and confrontational, driven by a perception that the US has been the victim of poorly conceived trade deals.

Relations have hit such a low that a key question now is whether the seven countries can agree on a joint statement of priorities at the conclusion of the meeting. A gathering of G-7 finance ministers days earlier concluded last week with a message of "concern and disappointment" for Trump from the other six countries. France's finance minister described the group as "far more a G-6 plus one than a G-7."

Macron made clear Thursday that the other six countries wouldn't hesitate to go it alone. On Twitter, he said: "The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be."

Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, was vague Wednesday on the outcome of the summit, saying: "For these kind of decisions, let them meet first. Let them meet; let them discuss. And then we'll see what happens."

Tension has been building over a year of policymaking that has distanced the US from traditional allies, including by Trump's decisions to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear agreement. The new tariffs- 25 percent on imported steel, 10 percent on aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union - threaten to drive up prices for American consumers and companies and heighten uncertainty for businesses and investors around the globe.

Canada and other US allies are retaliating with tariffs on US exports. Canada is waiting until the end of the month to apply them with the hope the Trump administration will reconsider.

Meanwhile, talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement that eliminated most tariffs and duties between the US, Canada and Mexico appear to have ground to a halt. Trump injected further uncertainty recently when he floated the idea of replacing NAFTA with two separate trade deals, one with each country.

Critics argue that the growing US isolation is risky at a time when Trump is making diplomatic overtures with North Korea and in the Middle East and could use the support of allies.

Sebastian Mallaby, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, described the relationships between the US and the rest of the G-7 as at a "new level of crisis," saying that it was not just about trade but "a general US attitude toward the system."

Despite the conflict, Mallaby predicted that the countries would still seek to work with the US, calling it "the indispensable country."

Likewise, Macron described the moment as a period of "great challenges," but also defended his efforts to befriend the American president, saying the US is a historical ally and "we need them."

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