Trump supports humanitarian aid to North Korea

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump has backed South Korea to send food aid to North Korea, to alleviate its food shortages.

A statement issued by the office of South Korean president said that Trump expressed his support for humanitarian aid during his 35-minute long telephonic call to President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday night, to discuss ways to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.

The latest development comes despite North Korea test firing short-range ballistic missiles, last weekend into the East Sea in defiance of the U.S.

“The two leaders exchanged views on the joint rapid food security assessment of the North Korea’s food situation by the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization. President Trump said that South Korea’s humanitarian food supply to the people in the North would be a very timely and positive action, expressing his support to the idea,” the statement uploaded on the website added.

The food security assessment report says that about 40% of North Korea’s population was in urgent need of food aid. The country has suffered its worst harvest in a decade.

South Korean presidential spokeswoman, Ko Min-jung said the two leaders discussed how to prevent North Korea from veering off the track of dialogue for denuclearization and how to resume the dialogue as early as possible.

A White House statement also said the two leaders discussed recent developments on North Korea and ways to achieve final and fully verified denuclearization.

"Moon told Trump, he does not believe the missile launch was a provocation and that the move should not be considered a ground to break talks," Seoul-based daily Chosunilbo reported.

Technically sanctions do not ban extending humanitarian assistance to Pyongyang, but Washington has opposed such aid, fearing that it would undermine global sanctions regime and thus embolden Pyongyang to circumvent nuclear concerns.

Stop escalating military tension: Seoul to Pyongyang

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – South Korea on Tuesday urged North to stop "escalating military tensions" on the Korean Peninsula.

"We are deeply concerned about North Korea's launch of multiple projectiles, which violates the spirit of the inter-Korean military agreement," Yonhap news agency quoted South Korean Defense Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo as saying.

The statement comes few days after Pyongyang fired "several short-range projectiles" involving a new type of tactical guided weapon and 240-mm and 300-mm multiple rocket launcher systems off the East Coast from Hodo peninsula near its eastern coastal town of Wonsan.

"We urge North Korea to halt acts that escalate military tensions on the Korean Peninsula," she added.

The South Korean military said it had no information if the tactical weapons fired by North Korea are ballistic missiles or not.

Yonhap quoted experts analyzing photographs released by the North Korean Central News agency that weapons are "believed to be short-range, ground-to-ground ballistic missiles, which are known as the North Korean version of Russia's Iskander missiles.

Seoul and Pyongyang last year in September had agreed to a series of trust-building and arms-control measures under a broader scheme to halt all hostile acts against each other.

US puts missile tests aside, seeks talks with N.Korea

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA – Despite a fresh North Korean missile test, the United States has reaffirmed its intention to negotiate with Pyongyang on denuclearization.

Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "We still have every intention of negotiating a good resolution with North Korea to get them to denuclearize."

The North Korean leader personally inspected the test firing of what is reported as an "unidentified short-range missile" in the East Sea over the weekend.

Pyongyang is under severe moratorium by UN to test any kind of nuclear weaponry since 2006 when it unilaterally test-fired nuclear weapons.

"We've known it would be a long path. We've known it wouldn't be straightforward. But I have extended our negotiating hand to the North Koreans since Hanoi. We've heard back from them. I extend my hand to continue those negotiations. We want to continue to work towards a peaceful resolution to achieve denuclearization," Pompeo told the interview.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met for the second time in Hanoi last February to strike a deal on denuclearization, however, the summit broke mid-way without reaching a deal.

Pyongyang has demanded the removal of Pompeo from the negotiating team.

Trump: US-N.Korea denuclearization deal 'will happen'

By Servet Gunerigok

WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. president on Saturday said a denuclearization deal with North Korea "will happen," just hours after Pyongyang reportedly fired unidentified short-range missiles in the direction of the East Sea.

The incident comes more than a year after the country fired a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

"Anything in this very interesting world is possible, but I believe that Kim Jong Un fully realizes the great economic potential of North Korea, & will do nothing to interfere or end it," Donald Trump tweeted.

"He also knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me.

"Deal will happen!" he added.

Two summits between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un since last June have failed to reach an agreement over the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Trump's last meeting with Kim in February ended without any progress on securing steps towards the North's denuclearization or the loosening of sanctions Pyongyang is seeking in return.

Trump said his talks with Kim broke down because the North Korean leader wanted the removal of sanctions "in their entirety," a claim rejected by Pyongyang, which insists it merely wanted a partial lifting of the biting economic penalties.

North Korea fires short-range missiles into East Sea

            By Omer Faruk Yildiz</p>  <p>SEOUL (AA) – North Korea fired unidentified short-range missiles in the direction of the East Sea on Saturday, according to South Korea’s state-run Yonhap News Agency. </p>  <p>Yonhap cited South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying the North “fired multiple rounds of unidentified missiles from its east coast town of Wonsan in the northeastern direction between 9:06 a.m. and 9:27 a.m. today&quot;.</p>  <p>The incident comes more than a year after the country fired a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile in late November 2017.</p>  <p>South Korean and U.S. authorities are analyzing the details of the launch, the agency said. 

UPDATE 2 – Trump, Putin discuss nuclear pacts: White House

                                                                ADDS WITH TRUMP COMMENTS IN GRAF 10</p>  <p>By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin spoke for more than an hour Friday discussing a wide range of issues including nuclear arms control agreements, according to the White House.</p>  <p>Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the conversation was &quot;very good&quot; and included discussions of trade, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report, North Korea and Venezuela.</p>  <p>Regarding nuclear arms treaties, Sanders said the men addressed the possibility of &quot;extending the current nuclear agreement, as well as discussions about potentially starting a new one that could include China as well.&quot;  </p>  <p>Trump later tweeted that he and Putin had &quot;a long and very good conversation.&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing,&quot; he said. &quot;Very productive talk!&quot; </p>  <p>Trump unilaterally began the process of formally withdrawing Washington from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, suspending it in February on allegations that Russia is not in compliance, and concerns China is not bound by its constraints on arms development.</p>  <p>The bilateral pact between the U.S. and Russia took effect in 1988, and was intended to mitigate the chances of nuclear war in Europe. </p>  <p>Trump has reportedly ordered his staff to prepare new arms control treaties with Russia and China.</p>  <p>It is not clear what those efforts will produce, if anything -- either separate bilateral pacts with China and Russia or a trilateral grand agreement. Either option usually takes years to achieve. </p>  <p>Addressing reporters while hosting Slovak Primer Minister Peter Pellegrini, Trump said Beijing has signaled its interest in a trilateral pact, suggesting the Chinese government may be more interested in the agreement than in a trade agreement currently under discussion.</p>  <p>In explaining his decision to the American people to exit the INF Treaty, Trump hinted he might pursue the latter option.</p>  <p>&quot;Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others,&quot; Trump said during his State of the Union address in February. &quot;Or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.&quot;

UPDATE – Trump, Putin discuss nuclear pacts: White House

                                               ADDS TRUMP TWEET IN GRAFS 4-5; DETAIL, REVISION IN SECOND GRAF</p>  <p>By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin spoke for more than an hour Friday discussing a wide range of issues including nuclear arms control agreements, according to the White House.</p>  <p>Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the conversation was &quot;very good&quot; and included discussions of trade, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report, North Korea and Venezuela.</p>  <p>Regarding nuclear arms treaties, Sanders said the men addressed the possibility of &quot;extending the current nuclear agreement, as well as discussions about potentially starting a new one that could include China as well.&quot;  </p>  <p>Trump later tweeted that he and Putin &quot;a long and very good conversation.&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;As I have always said, long before the Witch Hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing,&quot; he said. &quot;Very productive talk!&quot; </p>  <p>Trump unilaterally began the process of formally withdrawing Washington from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, suspending it in February on allegations that Russia is not in compliance, and concerns China is not bound by its constraints on arms development.</p>  <p>The bilateral pact between the U.S. and Russia took effect in 1988, and was intended to mitigate the chances of nuclear war in Europe. </p>  <p>Trump has reportedly ordered his staff to prepare new arms control treaties with Russia and China.</p>  <p>It is not clear what those efforts will produce, if anything -- either separate bilateral pacts with China and Russia or a trilateral grand agreement. Either option usually takes years to achieve. </p>  <p>In explaining his decision to the American people to exit the INF Treaty, Trump hinted he might pursue the latter option.</p>  <p>&quot;Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others,&quot; Trump said during his State of the Union address in February. &quot;Or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.&quot;

Trump, Putin discuss nuclear pacts: White House

                              By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin spoke for more than an hour Friday discussing a wide range of issues including nuclear arms control agreements, according to the White House.</p>  <p>Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the conversation was &quot;very good&quot; and &quot;very positive&quot; and the talk included discussions of trade, North Korea and Venezuela.</p>  <p>Regarding nuclear arms treaties, Sanders said the men addressed the possibility of &quot;extending the current nuclear agreement, as well as discussions about potentially starting a new one that could include China as well.&quot;  </p>  <p>Trump unilaterally began the process of formally withdrawing Washington from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, suspending it in February on allegations that Russia is not in compliance, and concerns China is not bound by its constraints on arms development.</p>  <p>The bilateral pact between the U.S. and Russia took effect in 1988, and was intended to mitigate the chances of nuclear war in Europe. </p>  <p>Trump has reportedly ordered his staff to prepare new arms control treaties with Russia and China.</p>  <p>It is not clear what those efforts will produce, if anything -- either separate bilateral pacts with China and Russia or a trilateral grand agreement. Either option usually takes years to achieve. </p>  <p>In explaining this decision to the American people to exit the INF Treaty, Trump hinted he might pursue the latter option.</p>  <p>&quot;Perhaps we can negotiate a different agreement, adding China and others,&quot; Trump said during his State of the Union address in February. &quot;Or perhaps we can’t — in which case, we will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.&quot;

South Korea urges North, US to resume talks

                  By Riyaz ul Khaliq </p>    <p>ANKARA - South Korea on Friday urged the U.S. and North Korea to resume dialogue on denuclearization of Korean peninsula, local media reported. </p>    <p>“For the two sides to meet and have productive discussions, obviously it is going to require flexibility to come to an agreement,” Yonhap news agency quoted South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha as saying at a news conference on Friday. </p>    <p>The Korean denuclearization process is stuck since breakdown of Washington-Pyongyang talks last February when U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un left their second summit without reaching any deal.</p>    <p>Praising relations between Kim and Trump, Pyongyang has sought replacement of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make any headway on the proposed denuclearization. </p>    <p>According to Yonhap, Kang urged the two sides to “come to an agreement that leads us to complete denuclearization as well as better relations between the U.S. and North Korea”.</p>    <p>“[But] there has to be a comprehensive picture,” she said. </p>    <p>Referring to Pyongyang’s approach in the ongoing logjam on nuclear talks, Kang said that Pyongyang appears to be still “taking stock and calculating next moves”. </p>    <p>North Korea is facing severe international sanctions since 2006 when it first tested its nuclear arsenal.

Iranian FM says to visit North Korea soon

TEHRAN (AA) – Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday he will visit North Korea soon.

The top Iranian diplomat, however, did not give an exact date for the visit.

Speaking to the official IRNA news agency, Zarif said he was not aware of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s plan to hold meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Zarif is currently on a visit to New York to attend a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Tension has grown between Tehran and Washington since the latter unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and imposed two rounds of sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Washington has also tightened sanctions on North Korea in an attempt to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.