Вакарчук відреагував на порівняння його концертів з «гречкою» на виборах

Він запевняє, що на безкоштовних концертах «Океан Ельзи» «немає жодної політичної агітації»

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За тиждень подвоїлася кількість людей, які змінили місце голосування перед виборами в Раду

26 778 українців тимчасово змінили місце голосування перед достроковими виборами у Верховну Раду, свідчать дані на сайті Державного реєстру виборців. Станом на 21 червня їхня кількість становила 13 091.

Найбільше місце голосування змінюють громадяни із Донецької та Луганської областей.

Центральна виборча комісія України спростила процедуру тимчасової зміни місця голосування. Тепер процедура не передбачає подачу документів (копій документів), що підтверджують необхідність тимчасової зміни місця голосування. Для цього потрібні тільки паспорт і заява.

Змінити місце голосування для участі у позачергових виборах до Верховної Ради можна до 15 липня.

Позачергові парламентські вибори мають відбутися 21 липня.

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Росія мала виконати три умови для повернення до ПАРЄ – Кулеба

«Я переконаний, що Росія не збиралася виконувати ці три вимоги, бо вони розуміли, що коаліція на їхню користь вже зайшла в такий стан, коли поверне їх без жодних поступок»

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Trump Meets Kim at DMZ, Crosses Into North Korea

Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit North Korea, stepping across the border during a meeting at the demilitarized zone with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

After shaking hands with Kim at the Panmunjom border village, Trump walked across the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas. Kim and Trump then crossed the border back into South Korea. 

“Good to see you again,” Kim told Trump. “I never expected to see you in this place.” 

“Stepping across that line was a great honor,” said Trump, who invited Kim to the United States for another meeting.

Trump on Saturday had said the meeting would only last two minutes. However, Trump’s private talks with Kim lasted about 50 minutes, turning into an impromptu summit.

When Trump emerged from the meeting, he announced he and Kim had agreed to form teams to restart working level talks. 

“They will meet over the next few weeks and they’re going to start a process and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “Speed is not the object…we want a really comprehensive, good deal.” 

Leaving South Korea after a wonderful meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un. Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2019

It is the third meeting between Kim and Trump, following meetings in Singapore last June and in Vietnam in February. Though the DMZ summit raises hopes of revived nuclear talks, it’s not clear how much progress was made.

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019.

Nuclear progress?

Trump announced his negotiating team would continue to be led by Steve Biegun, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea. He said that North Korea “was also putting someone in charge who we know and who we like,” though he didn’t elaborate.

After the Singapore summit, Trump also announced his deputies would soon start working level negotiations. But those talks soon broke down over disagreements about how to pace sanctions relief with North Korea’s steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons. 

“It’s where we were about 15 months ago,” says Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “One step forward, two steps back. But this is one step forward.” 

“Given where we were last week, it’s not nothing,” he added. 

The disagreements between the U.S. and North Korea remain vast. Not only has North Korea not provided a list of its nuclear sites, Washington and Pyongyang have not even agreed on what the idea of denuclearization means. 

In recent weeks, North Korea expressed increasing levels of anger at the U.S. refusal to relax sanctions. Trump prefers a “big deal” under which North Korea commits to completely abandoning his nuclear weapons before relaxing any sanctions.

In their public comments Sunday, neither Trump nor Kim gave any indication of softening their stances.

“There was no sign that the two sides were prepared to address the underlying substantive problems, like differences over sanctions relief, that have made diplomacy so difficult,” says Mintaro Oba, a former State Department official and Korea specialist.  

“Unless the working-level negotiators have a mandate to try new, more constructive approaches to these problems, it’s hard to see what they can achieve,” he adds.

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stand on the North Korean side in the Demilitarized Zone, Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Panmunjom.

U.S. officials have given mixed signals about whether they are open to an incremental approach, whereby Pyongyang would give up its nuclear program in stages in exchange for reciprocal steps by Washington.

Building trust or theatrics?

Trump visited the DMZ with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Though the three leaders did not make any public statement together, they briefly appeared together before Trump and Kim met for private talks.

At an earlier military briefing with Moon at a DMZ lookout point, Trump said the demilitarized zone used to be “very, very dangerous…but after our first summit, all the danger went away.” 

Trump also defended his North Korea policy and blasted media that have questioned whether he should meet with Kim, given that talks with North Korea are stalled.  

“I say that for the press, they have no appreciation for what we’ve done,” Trump said.

While many warn the latest summit risked normalizing friendly relations with a brutal dictator, South Korea’s President Moon said the meeting was an important step toward building trust with North Korea.

“We have taken one big step forward,” Moon said. “The…Korean people have been given hope thanks to today.”

But Bonnie Glaser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that for Trump, stepping inside North Korea might not signify any change in policy.

Trump, she said, delights in doing things no president has done before.”

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Schumer: ATF Should Investigate Dominican Republic Deaths

The Senate’s top Democrat called on the U.S. government Sunday to step up its efforts to investigate the deaths of Americans who traveled to the Dominican Republic and is asking the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to get involved.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the agency should step in to lend investigative support to the FBI and local law enforcement officials after at least eight Americans died in the Dominican Republic this year. Family members of the tourists have called on authorities to investigate whether there’s any connection between the deaths and have raised the possibility the deaths may have been caused by adulterated alcohol or misused pesticides.

The ATF – the agency primarily investigates firearms-related crimes but is also charged with regulating alcohol and tobacco – is uniquely positioned to provide technical and forensic expertise in the investigation, Schumer said. The agency also has offices in the Caribbean.

“Given that we still have a whole lot of questions and very few answers into just what, if anything, is cause for the recent spate of sicknesses and several deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic, the feds should double their efforts on helping get to the bottom of things,” Schumer said in a statement to The Associated Press.

An ATF spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Francisco Javier Garcia, the tourism minister in the Dominican Republic, said earlier this month that the deaths are not part of any mysterious wave of fatalities but instead are a statistically normal phenomenon that has been lumped together by the U.S. media. He said autopsies show the tourists died of natural causes.

Five of the autopsies were complete as of last week, while three were undergoing further toxicological analysis with the help from the FBI because of the circumstances of the deaths.

 

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ЦВК зареєструвала партію Саакашвілі на дочасних виборах в Раду

Центральна виборча комісія на засіданні 29 червня ухвалила рішення про реєстрацію партії екс-президента Грузії, колишнього голови Одеської ОДА Міхеїла Саакашвілі «Рух нових сил» на позачергових виборах до Верховної Ради 21 липня.

За даними ЦВК, зареєстровано 88 кандидатів у народні депутати України, включених до виборчого списку партії в загальнодержавному багатомандатному виборчому окрузі та 9 кандидатів – в одномандатних виборчих округах.

Повідомляється, що реєстрація проведена на виконання рішення Верховного суду України.

У партії Саакашвілі реєстрацію на виборах назвали «кроком до перемоги». 

Раніше сьогодні Верховний суд України підтвердив рішення апеляційної інстанції дозволити партії Міхеїла Саакашвілі «Рух нових сил» реєструватися для участі у виборах.

Центральна виборча комісія 23 червня відмовила в реєстрації кандидатам від партії Міхеїла Саакашвілі «Рух нових сил». Пізніше, 25 червня, Шостий апеляційний адміністративний суд Києва ухвалив рішення за позовом партії «Рух нових сил Михайла Саакашвілі» до ЦВК, яким вирішив задовольнити заяву позивача, який вимагав від Центрвиборчкому скасувати рішення про відмову в реєстрації як списку партії Саакашвілі, так і кандидатів у мажоритарних округах, висунутих цією політичною силою.

Позачергові парламентські вибори в Україні відбудуться 21 липня 2019 року.

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Trump Appeals US Judge’s Border Wall Funding Ruling

U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday appealed a U.S. judge’s ruling that blocked his administration from using $2.5 billion in funds intended for anti-drug activities to construct a wall along the southern border with Mexico. 

U.S. Department of Justice lawyers said in a court filing that they were formally appealing Friday’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 

“We’re immediately appealing it, and we think we’ll win the appeal,” Trump said during a press conference Saturday at a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 major economies in Japan. 

“There was no reason that that should’ve happened,” Trump said. 

Trump says construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico 
border is needed to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, but he has so far been unable to get congressional approval for such a project. 

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle sits near the wall as President Donald Trump visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, Calif., April 5, 2019.
Judge Blocks Plans to Build Part of Southern Border Wall
A federal judge blocked on Friday President Donald Trump from building sections of his long-sought border wall with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency.

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam, Jr., immediately halted the administration’s efforts to redirect military-designated funds for wall construction. His order applies to two high-priority projects to replace 51 miles (82 kilometers) of fence in two areas on the Mexican border.

Gilliam issued the ruling after hearing arguments last week in two cases.

In February, the Trump administration declared a national 
emergency to reprogram $6.7 billion in funds that Congress had allocated for other purposes to build the wall, which groups and states including California had challenged. 

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam in Oakland, Calif., said in a pair of court decisions that the Trump administration’s proposal to transfer Defense Department funds intended for anti-drug activities was unlawful. 

One of Gilliam’s rulings was in a lawsuit filed by California on behalf of 20 states, while the other was in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in coordination with the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition. 

“These rulings critically stop President Trump’s illegal 
money grab to divert $2.5 billion of unauthorized funding for 
his pet project,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra 
said in a statement late Friday. “All President Trump has 
succeeded in building is a constitutional crisis, threatening 
immediate harm to our state.” 

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Повернення Росії в ПАРЄ не означає звільнення українських бранців ­– Клімкін

Міністр закордонних справ України Павло Клімкін заявив, що не варто пов’язувати повернення Росії у Парламентську асамблею Ради Європи із можливим звільненням Москвою у відповідь українських бранців.

«Багато пишуть про ймовірний розмін між Європою та Росією: повернення Росії в ПАРЄ на можливе звільнення наших в’язнів. Зрада Європи нам всім болить. Але не ведіться на це. Не шукайте такого роду «логічних» виправдань. Тим більше, всі чули, що казав російський президент в японській Осаці», – написав Клімкін на сторінці у Facebook.

Він заявив, що нині тривають розмови про «спільну відповідальність» Європи і Росії за долю України як їхнього спільного сусіда.

«Вже зараз в кулуарах можна почути розмови про те, що Україна є спільним сусідством Росії та Європи, спільною відповідальністю, тому мають бути й спільні дії: насправді, дії будуть російські, а Європа буде спостерігати», – додав Клімкін.

Президент Росії Володимир Путін за підсумками зустрічі із президентом США Дональдом Трампом в японській Осаці заявив, що ситуація навколо українських полонених моряків була однією з пріоритетних тем, але «рішення поки немає».

Парламентська асамблея Ради Європи 26 червня погодилася повернути делегацію Росії без жодних санкцій. 

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На Донбасі з початку доби поранений 1 військовослужбовець – штаб ООС

У зоні бойових дій на Донбасі з початку доби 29 червня зазнав поранень один український військовослужбовець, повідомляє штаб операції Об’єднаних сил. За цими даними, підтримувані Росією бойовики здійснили 11 обстрілів позицій українських військових.

«Збройні формування Російської Федерації обстрілювали позиції наших підрозділів із застосуванням заборонених Мінськими угодами артилерійських систем калібру 122 міліметри, мінометів калібру 120 та 82 міліметри, а також із гранатометів різних систем, озброєння БМП, великокаліберних кулеметів та стрілецької зброї», – йдеться в повідомленні.

В угрупованні «ДНР» звинуватили українських військових у обстрілі Горлівки, а також сіл Доломітне і Майорове. В угрупованні «ЛНР» не вказують даних про обстріли упродовж дня на захоплених бойовиками територіях Луганщини.

Унаслідок конфлікту на сході України з квітня 2014 року, за оцінками ООН станом на 31 грудня 2018 року, загинули від 12 тисяч 800 до 13 тисяч людей.

Перемир’я, про які домовлялися на засіданнях Тристоронньої контактної групи в Мінську, порушувалися практично відразу. При цьому сторони заперечують свою вину в цих порушеннях і звинувачують противників у провокаціях.

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9/11 First Responder Advocate Dies at 53

A leader in the fight for health benefits for emergency personnel who responded to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. has died.

Former New York City Police detective Luis Alvarez died from colorectal cancer Saturday, his family announced in a post On Facebook.

The 53-year-old Alvarez appeared with American comedian and political activist Jon Stewart before a House Judiciary subcommittee on June 11 to appeal for an extension of the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund.

A frail Alvarez told the panel, “This fund is not a ticket to paradise, it’s to provide our families with care.” He went on to say “You all said you would never forget. Well, I’m here to make sure that you don’t.”

Alvarez was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. His illness was traced to the three months he spent searching for survivors in the toxic rubble of the World Trade Center’s twin towers that were destroyed in the terrorist attacks.

He was admitted to a hospice on Long Island, New York within a few days of his testimony in Washington.

Legislation to replenish the $7.3 billion compensation fund that provides health benefits to police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders passed the full committee unanimously.

The federal government opened the fund in 2011 to compensate responders and their families for deaths and illnesses that were linked to exposure to toxins. Current projections indicate the fund will be depleted at the end of 2020.

Other responders who spent weeks at the site have also been diagnosed with A variety of cancers and other illnesses.

The World Trade Center Health Program, a separate program associated with a fund run by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said more than 12,000 related cases of cancer had also been diagnosed as of May.

 

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Hong Kong Protests Stir Questions in Macau

Since Portugal’s colony of Macau reverted to Chinese control in 1999, it has become known for operating the world’s most profitable gaming industry and a go-along, get-along attitude toward Beijing.

However, the continuing protests in Hong Kong over a controversial extradition bill may be triggering some small change of political attitudes in Macau, 65 kilometers (40.4 miles) away by ferry. Hong Kong businesses closed to support protests, so did some Macau shops, for example.

FILE – Macau lawmaker and member of the election committee, Jose Coutinho, speaks to the media, July 26, 2009.

Jose Pereira Coutinho, president of the pro-democracy New Hope party in Macau, and one of the most influential members of its legislative assembly, told VOA that despite the different legal systems in Macau and Hong Kong, the two Special Administrative Regions of China “are highly similar in the ways of life and their societies in general. We always reflect on what happens in Hong Kong. The recent protests there … are a lesson for the Macau government to not step into a wrong decision, so that the mistakes would not happen … in Macau.”

His is not the only voice hinting at change.

‘One citizen, one photo’ protest

Macau Concealers, a pro-democracy newspaper, organized a “one citizen, one photo” event that asked people to submit photos of themselves holding protest signs.

Jia Lu, a Macanese journalist, said in his commentary on the Hong Kong protest: “Liberty is never free bread to be taken for granted. Today, as long as you are a human, there is no reason to be silent.”

Some Macau activists traveled across the Pearl River estuary to join the Hong Kong protests.

FILE – Police officers use pepper spray during a rally against a proposed extradition law at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, June 10, 2019.

Macanese reporter Jiajun Chen posted on Facebook during the first week of protests that he was injured by the hot chili spray the Hong Kong police used to control protesters as he covered the crowds. Then, while receiving first aid at the scene, he received another stinging dose from the Hong Kong police. Chen said his press pass was visible during both sprays.

“We are just so used to complaining, often in private, but rarely take action,” Di Ng, 27, a Macanese independent filmmaker, told VOA in a phone interview.

“Macau is a very traditional society largely controlled by different she tuan,” he said. She tuan are foundations and associations organized according to industries, interests, family ties and social identities.

“The elderly get to organize the social order, and they are usually pro-[Beijing]. Even youngsters who want to speak out are discouraged by this social structure.”

“Only after coming to Taiwan did I realize that the definition of a modern society should include democracy, not just fancy mega-casinos and free cash from the government,” said Ng, who is now doing graduate work in film at Taipei’s National Taiwan University of Arts.

FILE – Protesters march along a road demonstrating against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong, China, June 12, 2019.

Macau vs Hong Kong

Meng U Ieong, an assistant professor from the department of government and public administration in University of Macau, cautioned that the values of modern Western democracies are less popular in Macau than they are in Hong Kong, even though Macau was a Portuguese colony for 442 years, or 286 longer years than Hong Kong was under British rule.

“The social mobilization mechanism is very different between Hong Kong and Macau,” he told VOA in an email.

He pointed to the large-scale protest in Macau in 2014 that halted a controversial pension plan for retired officials as the kind of event used as evidence that Macanese will take to the streets only for pocketbook issues.

Abstract “social issues which do not relate to very specific and tangible interests,” such as the extradition bill upsetting Hong Kong, are unlikely to generate protests in Macau, according to Ieong. 

Since 2008, Macau’s government has given an annual cash handout to residents. For 2018, all local permanent residents received a cash handout of 10,000 patacas, or about $1,245. Nonpermanent residents received 6,000 patacas.

FILE – A croupier counts the chips at a baccarat gaming table inside a casino during the opening day of Sheraton Macao Hotel at the Sands Cotai Central in Macau.

This largesse is because of Macau’s gaming industry. Its revenues overtook those from the Las Vegas Strip in 2007, according to Reuters.

In 2018, the “Vegas of China” tallied $38 billion, according to the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, the haul was $6.6 billion in 2018, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

For both Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, and Macau, the changeover from European colony to Chinese territory came with the concept of “one country, two systems.” Communist Party reformer Deng Xiaoping designed the concept as a way to gather Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan into China, while preserving their political and economic systems. 

Taiwan remains independent. Hong Kong has met Beijing’s tightening controls with protests, including the most recent, and largest, ones over a proposed law that would allow extradition for trial in China. The law is backed by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is closely aligned with Beijing and who has apologized for the current controversy.

In 2014, Beijing’s interference with the selection of candidates for the chief executive position spawned the Occupy Central or Umbrella Movement. It focused on demands for universal suffrage, which is a long-term goal of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

Success story

Macau, however, emerged as the “one country, two systems” success story. Unlike Hong Kong, with its global reputation as a business center bound by the rule of law, Macau largely depends on gaming and has shown little resistance to Beijing’s influence, according to a recent Foreign Policy article.

“There is stronger Chinese influence [in Macau]. Plus, we usually just see things in economic terms, unlike Hong Kongers who uphold the value of democracy that they inherited from the British,” said a 17-year-old Macanese student. A freshman at a Los Angeles area college, she asked to remain anonymous because she was in Hong Kong attending orientation for non-U.S. students when the protests erupted.

Eilo Yu, an associate professor in the department of government and public administration at University of Macau, expects the Hong Kong protests to influence Macau’s August vote for its chief executive.

“If Mr. Ho Iat Seng, whom I believe will be the only candidate, cannot manage well in responding [to the protest], this will hurt his legitimacy in ruling when he becomes the CE,” Yu said to VOA in an email. “The current situation may be good to his campaign [in] that he need not make a firm statement for a possible extradition between Mainland and Macao. However, if Carrie Lam is going to resign during the Macau election, Ho will be questioned and pressured on his possible resignation when his performance” disappoints Macao citizens.

“We were known for being silent,” said Ng, the filmmaker. “But with the Hong Kongers setting the example, things might be different in the future.”

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Волкер: пропозиція Росії щодо полонених моряків – пастка і образа правосуддю

Спеціальний представник Держдепартаменту США щодо України Курт Волкер прокоментував пропозицію Росії до України долучитись до процесу над полоненими українськими моряками.

«Росія не запропонувала звільнити українських моряків. Ця «пропозиція» була образою правосуддя, оскільки не було ніяких підстав для їх затримання, а також образою ООН тасуверенітету України. Це була пастка», – написав він у Twitter, долучивши статтю видання polygraph.info зі своїм коментарем на цю тему.

26 червня стало відомо, що Росія подала до Міжнародного трибуналу ООН з морського права звіт про виконання рішення щодо звільнення українських моряків і кораблів «за мить до дедлайну». В українському МЗС також підтвердили, що отримали ноту від МЗС Росії із пропозицією щодо надання українською стороною письмових гарантій участі України у продовженні кримінального переслідування українських моряків відповідно до російського законодавства. Українські дипломати назвали таку пропозицію «цинічною».

У відповідь російське МЗС заявило, що Україна спекулює на долі моряків.

Міжнародний трибунал з морського права на засіданні в Гамбурзі у справі захоплених Росією українських моряків 25 травня зобов’язав Росію негайно звільнити військові кораблі і повернути їх під контроль України. У Міністерстві закордонних справ Росії раніше вже заявляли, що у Трибуналу ООН немає юрисдикції розглядати справу про захоплення українських моряків.

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Trump to Kim: Let’s Shake Hands at the DMZ

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, “just to shake his hand and say hello.”

Trump made the offer in a tweet just hours ahead of landing in South Korea on Saturday.

After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2019

Speaking to reporters at the Group of 20 summit in Japan, Trump said he decided Saturday morning to “put out a feeler” to meet Kim, adding that such a meeting would only last for two minutes.

Kim has not responded to Trump’s offer. In a statement to reporters, South Korea’s presidential Blue House says “nothing has been finalized yet,” adding that Seoul continues to call for more dialogue with North Korea.

It isn’t clear whether South Korean President Moon Jae-in would also attend any meeting at the DMZ.

FILE – U.S. special representative to North Korea Steve Biegun speaks after being named by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department in Washington, Aug. 23, 2018.

Indicator of progress

It would be the third meeting between Trump and Kim, who met in Singapore last June and in Vietnam in February.

Since Vietnam, working-level negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have broken down because of disagreement over how to pace sanctions relief with the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

In recent weeks, Trump and Kim have exchanged personal letters, raising hopes the talks may get back on track. But it isn’t clear more top-level diplomacy can advance the talks, because neither side appears to have softened their negotiating position.

Even though most eyes will be on a possible Trump-Kim meeting, a key indicator of progress is whether North Korean counterparts meet with U.S. Special Representative Stephen Biegun, says Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

“Progress on inter-Korean relations and denuclearization requires that the Kim regime agree to working-level talks to negotiate next steps,” Easley says. Absent substantive talks, further summits with Kim “run the risk of appearing to accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” he adds.

FILE – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in walk together at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, April 27, 2018.

Meeting at JSA?

It isn’t clear where along the 250-kilometer-long DMZ Trump intends to visit.

The Joint Security Area (JSA) has long been mentioned as a possible venue for a Trump-Kim meeting. The JSA, also known as the Panmunjom border village, is the only spot along the DMZ where North and South Korean soldiers can stand face-to-face.

Though the area would provide a dramatic setting for a high-profile summit, some fear a brief Trump-Kim meeting would be trivial unless accompanied by serious negotiations.

“The DMZ is too consequential a venue to be used simply as backdrop for a photo op,” said Daniel Russel, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific.

“And it is absolutely not the place to praise his ‘friend’ Kim, to complain about ‘freeloading’ allies, or to muse about withdrawing U.S. troops,” Russel added.

Past U.S. presidents have visited the DMZ to deliver messages on strengthening the U.S.-South Korea alliance, to pay respect to the troops, and to demonstrate a symbolic show of resolve against North Korea.

While Trump’s language may differ from that of past presidents, some analysts welcome a more conciliatory approach.

“While no major agreements will be signed, both sides can reaffirm their commitment to dialogue and diplomacy, essentially resetting the table for a future deal in the weeks and months to come,” said Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean Studies at the Center for the National Interest.

Wide gaps

There appear to be wide gaps between North and South Korea on how to proceed with nuclear talks.

Although Trump and Kim agreed in Singapore to work “toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” U.S. officials have acknowledged that Washington and Pyongyang do not agree on what “denuclearization” means.

North Korean officials have made clear they do not see “denuclearization” as Pyongyang unilaterally giving up its nuclear weapons. Instead, the North wants to see the U.S. take reciprocal steps, including ending U.S. and U.N. sanctions and providing various security guarantees.

In Hanoi, Kim offered to dismantle a key nuclear complex in exchange for the lifting of most U.N. sanctions. Trump rejected that offer, insisting that Kim agree to give up his entire nuclear weapons program before receiving sanctions relief.

Kim has given the U.S. until the end of the year to offer what it sees as an adequate counterproposal.
 

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Trump Praises Saudi Crown Prince at G-20 Meeting 

VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Steve Herman in Osaka, Japan, and Dorian Jones in Istanbul contributed to this report.

U.S. President Donald Trump praised Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the two met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Japan, calling him a “friend of mine” who has done a “spectacular job.”

Trump said Saturday he appreciated Saudi Arabia’s purchase of U.S. military equipment and said the prince has worked to open up his country with economic and social reforms.

The U.S. president declined to respond to questions from the media on whether he would raise the issue of the death last year of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi prince has faced international scrutiny since Khashoggi was killed in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last year.

Following their working breakfast on Saturday, the White House said the two leaders had a productive meeting, discussing the growing threat from Iran, the need to ensure stability in global oil markets and the importance of human rights issues.
 

FILE – This combination of file photos shows U.S. President Donald Trump on March 28, 2017, in Washington, and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Feb. 22, 2017, in Beijing. Xi and Trump will meet June 29, 2019, in Osaka, Japan.

Trump is set to meet later Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to restart trade negotiations between the countries that broke off last month.

Trump, asked by VOA News during his meeting Friday at the summit with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro whether he expects Xi to put a trade deal offer on the table Saturday, replied: “We’ll see what happens tomorrow. It’ll be a very exciting day, I’m sure, for a lot of people, including the world. … It’s going to come out hopefully well for both countries and ultimately it will work out.”

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said this week that Trump did not agree to any preconditions for the high-stakes meeting with Xi and was maintaining his threat to impose new tariffs on Chinese goods. 
 
Trump has threatened another $325 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, which would cover just about everything China exports to the U.S. that is not already covered by the current 25% tariff on $250 billion in Chinese imports.  
  
China has slapped its own tariffs on U.S. products, including those produced by already financially strapped American farmers.  
  
The chief of staff to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short, said Friday that the “best-case scenario” for Saturday’s talks would be a resumption of trade negotiations between the United States and China. 
 
Eleven rounds of previous talks have failed to ease U.S. concerns about China’s massive trade surplus and China’s acquisition of U.S. technology. 
 
The latest round of talks broke down in May, when Washington accused Beijing of going back on its pledge to change Chinese laws to enact economic reforms. 
 
Neither the United Sates nor China has indicated it will back down from previous positions that led to the current stalemate.  
  

FILE – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his MPs and supporters at parliament, in Ankara, May 7, 2019.

Trump is also scheduled to meet Saturday with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting is seen as the last chance to avoid a rupture in ties between the NATO allies over Turkey’s procurement of Russia’s S-400 missile system.
 
Before leaving for Japan, Erdogan played down the threat of sanctions. “I don’t know if NATO countries began to impose sanctions on each other. I did not receive this impression during my contact with Trump,” he said Wednesday to reporters. 
 
The Turkish president told the Nikkei Asian Review, in an interview published Wednesday, that he was expecting a breakthrough with Trump. 
 
“I believe my meeting with U.S. President Trump during the G-20 summit will be important for eliminating the deadlock in our bilateral relations and strengthening our cooperation,” he said. 

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Senate Fails to Limit Trump War Powers 

Political unease over the White House’s tough talk against Iran is reviving questions about President Donald Trump’s ability to order military strikes without approval from Congress.

The Senate fell short Friday, in a 50-40 vote, on an amendment to a sweeping Defense bill that would require congressional support before Trump acts. It didn’t reach the 60-vote threshold needed for passage. But lawmakers said the majority showing sent a strong message that Trump cannot continue relying on the nearly 2-decade-old war authorizations Congress approved in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The House is expected to take up the issue next month.

Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 29, 2019.

“A congressional vote is a pretty good signal of what our constituents are telling us — that another war in the Middle East would be a disaster right now, we don’t want the president to just do it on a whim,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., a co-author of the measure with Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. “My gut tells me that the White House is realizing this is deeply unpopular with the American public.”

The effort in the Senate signals discomfort with Trump’s approach to foreign policy. Four Republicans joined most Democrats in supporting the amendment, but it faces steep resistance from the White House and the Pentagon wrote a letter opposing it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds a news conference ahead of the Fourth of July break, at the Capitol in Washington, June 27, 2019.

McConnell: ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it nothing more than another example of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” which he explained as whatever the president’s for “they seem to be against.”

McConnell said putting restrictions on the White House would “hamstring” the president’s ability to respond militarily at a time of escalating tension between the U.S. and Iran.

“They have gratuitously chosen to make him the enemy,” McConnell said. “Rather than work with the president to deter our actual enemy, they have chosen to make him the enemy.”

Trump: No congressional approval needed

Trump’s approach to the standoff with Iran and his assertion earlier this week that he doesn’t need congressional approval to engage militarily has only sparked fresh questions and hardened views in Congress.

Trump tweeted last week that the U.S. came within minutes of striking Iran in response to its shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone until he told the military to stand down. He said he was concerned over an Iranian casualty count estimated at 150.

“We’ve been keeping Congress abreast of what we’re doing … and I think it’s something they appreciate,” Trump told The Hill website. “I do like keeping them abreast, but I don’t have to do it legally.”

As the popular Defense bill was making its way through the Senate, Democrats vowed to hold back their support unless McConnell agreed to debate the war powers. The defense bill was roundly approved Thursday on a vote of 86-8.

FILE – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., joined at right by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, April 9, 2019.

Schumer urges Congress to act

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York assembled his caucus earlier this week. In a series of closed-door meetings he argued that Congress had ceded too much authority to presidents of both parties, according to a person granted anonymity to discuss the private sessions. Schumer said the amendment would prohibit funds to be used for hostilities with Iran without the OK of Congress.

Schumer also said that the American people are worried that U.S. and Iran are on a dangerous collision course and that even though Trump campaigned on not wanting to get the U.S. embroiled in wars he “may bumble us into one.”

“It is high time that Congress re-establishes itself as this nation’s decider of war and peace,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

FILE – Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks to reporters after a classified members-only briefing on Iran, May 21, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Romney counters

To counter the Democrats’ effort, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah pushed forward an alternative to Udall’s amendment that reaffirmed the U.S. can defend itself and respond to any attacks. But Romney said his version is not an authorization to use force against Iran.

“I fully concur with my Senate colleagues who desire to reassert our constitutional role,” Romney said on the Senate floor. But he warned that the Udall amendment goes too far. “The president should not have his hands tied.”

The debate over whether the legislative or executive branch has sole power over war-making depends on how one interprets the Constitution, experts said.

In recent years, the U.S. military has been deployed under old war authorizations passed in 2001 and 2002 for conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some lawmakers have pushed to pass new war powers acts, but none have materialized, though the House last week voted to sunset those authorizations.

Pompeo lists Iran’s aggressions

In ticking off a list of Iranian acts of “unprovoked aggression,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently asserted that a late May car bombing of a U.S. convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was among a series of threats or attacks by Iran and its proxies against American and allies interests. At the time, the Taliban claimed credit for the attack, with no public word of Iranian involvement.

Pompeo’s inclusion of the Afghanistan attack in his list of six Iranian incidents raised eyebrows in Congress. Pompeo and other administration officials have suggested that they would be legally justified in taking military action against Iran under the 2001 authorization.

That law gave President George W. Bush authority to retaliate against al-Qaida and the Taliban for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It has subsequently been used to allow military force against extremists elsewhere, from the Philippines to Syria.

The Senate amendment addressed the question about how much Congress can restrict the president, said Scott R. Anderson, a legal expert at Brookings Institution.

“If they actually pass it, it would be very substantive because it would be putting limits on the president that have never been there before,” Anderson said.

Even though the measure failed to reach the 60 votes needed, the House will likely try to attach its own limits on military action in Iran with its Defense bill next month. 
 

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