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Trump says he'll meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un

Trump says he'll meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un

Trump says he'll meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon
People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, left, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, March 9, 2018. Trump has accepted an offer of a summit from the North Korean leader and will meet with Kim Jong Un by May, a top South Korean official said Thursday, in a remarkable turnaround in relations between two historic adversaries. The signs read: " Trump has accepted an offer of a summit from the North Korean leader and will meet with Kim by May." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Trump says he'll meet with North Korea's Kim Jong Un

After months of trading insults and threats of nuclear annihilation, President Donald Trump agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un by the end of May to negotiate an end to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program, South Korean and U.S. officials said Thursday. No sitting American president has ever met with a North Korea leader.

The meeting would be unprecedented during seven decades of animosity between the U.S. and North Korea. The countries remain in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.

"Great progress being made," Trump tweeted after the South Korean national security director, Chung Eui-yong, announced the plans to reporters in a hastily called appearance on a White House driveway.

Trump added that sanctions will remain in place until there's a deal.

Trump took office vowing to stop North Korea from attaining a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the U.S. mainland, a goal that Pyongyang is on the cusp of reaching. He's oscillated between threats and insults directed at Kim that have fueled fears of war, and more conciliatory rhetoric.

The historic announcement comes during a period of unparalleled tumult in the West Wing, with the president's policy agenda stalled and morale sinking as staff departures proliferate and disrupt efforts to instill more discipline and order.

Trump clearly relished the news of the planned summit. He had made a surprise visit to the White House press briefing room on Thursday afternoon to alert reporters of a "major statement" on North Korea by South Korea. When asked by an ABC reporter if it was about talks with North Korea, he replied: "It's almost beyond that. Hopefully, you will give me credit."

Earlier Thursday, Chung had briefed Trump and other top U.S. officials about a rare meeting with Kim in the North Korean capital. During that meeting, the rival Koreas agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April, the first in a decade.

Kim "expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible," Chung told reporters. "President Trump appreciated the briefing and said he would meet Kim Jong Un by May to achieve permanent denuclearization."

The White House said Trump's meeting with Kim would take place "at a place and time to be determined."

"Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze," Trump said in a tweet. "Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time."

It marks a dramatic shift in Trump's stance toward North Korea. He has threatened the pariah nation with "fire and fury" if its threats against the U.S. and its allies continued. He has derided Kim by referring to him as "Little Rocket Man." Kim has pilloried Trump as "senile" and a "dotard."

After Kim repeated threats against the U.S. in a New Year's address and mentioned the "nuclear button" on his office desk, Trump responded by tweeting that he has a nuclear button, too, "but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"

North Korea appeared to confirm the summit plans. A senior North Korean diplomat at the United Nations in New York, Pak Song Il, told The Washington Post in an e-mail that the invitation was the result of Kim's "broad minded and resolute decision" to contribute to the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula.

By the "great courageous decision of our Supreme Leader, we can take the new aspect to secure the peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region," Pak wrote.

On Tuesday after leaving Pyongyang, Chung had publicized that North Korea was offering talks with the United States on denuclearization and normalizing ties. But the proposal for a summit still came as a surprise, and will raise questions about whether the two sides are ready for such a high-level meeting.

Just a few hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is traveling in Africa, had said the adversaries were still a long way from holding negotiations.

Chung, who credited Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign for the diplomatic opening on the nuclear issue, said Kim understands that routine U.S.-South Korea military drills "must continue."

The drills were suspended during the Winter Olympics recently hosted by South Korea, which provided impetus for the inter-Korea rapprochement. The drills are expected to resume next month and had widely been seen as an obstacle to talks. North Korea has long protested the military maneuvers south of the divided Korean Peninsula as a rehearsal for invading the North.

When the South Korean delegation briefed Trump in the Oval Office, he was joined by a number of top advisers, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, chief of staff John Kelly and the director of national intelligence, among others, according to a senior Trump administration official who briefed reporters after the announcement. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the sensitive diplomatic issue by name and spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was no letter from Kim to Trump, just an oral briefing from the South Korean officials.

The planned summit was welcomed by arms control advocates, but got varying responses from Republican lawmakers.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said the invitation was a sign that sanction pressure was working but he was skeptical of North Korea's motives. Sen. Lindsey Graham warned Kim that "the worst possible thing you can do is meet with President Trump in person and try to play him. If you do that, it will be the end of you — and your regime."

Darryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said it was too much to expect a single Trump-Kim summit could immediately resolve the nuclear issue that has bedeviled U.S. administrations since the early 1990s, when the North first began producing fissile material for bombs.

"But if the U.S. works closely and intensively with our South Korean allies in its approach to North Korea, a summit offers the potential for starting a serious process that could move us decisively away from the current crisis," Kimball said.


Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Zeke Miller, Catherine Lucey, Ken Thomas, Darlene Superville and Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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  • Ending weeks of negotiations between Congress and the White House, GOP leaders on Wednesday night released a $1.3 trillion funding plan for the federal government, an agreement that will result in over $100 billion in new spending in 2018, causing heartburn – and opposition – among more conservative Republicans in the House. Almost six months behind schedule on their budget work, lawmakers produced a mammoth bill, which weighs in at 2,232 pages, the product of extended talks that almost went awry at the last minute. The bill was highlighted by the inclusion of a number of non-spending provisions, like two measurse championed in the aftermath of the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which would get more information into the background check system for gun buyers, and to help schools better recognize possible problems with violence. Each party had a laundry list of items that they trumpeted in a flurry of news releases sent to reporters – for Republicans, that often included more money for the Pentagon, while Democrats focused on more money for domestic programs. BREAKING: Budget bargainers clinch $1.3 trillion deal bearing big defense, domestic boosts, no protections for Dreamer immigrants. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 22, 2018 In all, almost 4,000 pages of bill text and supporting materials were released to lawmakers – almost impossible for anyone to read before the votes, which are expected on Thursday. But we did some speed reading – and here is some of what we found: 1. The Omnibus features more spending from budget deal. Following through on a bipartisan budget agreement from earlier this year, this funding measure adds more money to the Pentagon – raising the overall military budget to $700 billion this year, and $716 billion in 2019. This year’s hike was $61 billion: “This is the biggest year-to-year increase in defense funding in 15 years,” GOP leaders said in their argument to Republican lawmakers. More money is also added for domestic programs, but that did not match the defense increase, but it was still one reason why Democrats signed on to the agreement. The total for discretionary funding is $1.3 trillion, more than any single year of the Obama Administration. This critical funding bill fulfills our pledge to rebuild the nation’s military. It also addresses many of our national priorities, such as school safety, infrastructure, and fighting the opioid epidemic. — Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) March 22, 2018 2. More conservative Republicans not pleased. Even before the details were out on the Omnibus, it wasn’t hard to tell what members of the House Freedom Caucus were going to do on this bill – vote against it – even with the big increase in defense funding. “That is not in anyway close to what the election was about, close to what we campaigned on,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). “We all campaigned on changing the status quo,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH). “I think all of us agree we’re spending too much,” he added. But that was a minority view within the party, as GOP leaders focused more on the big increase in military funding. – Record spending levels – No wall/border security – Obamacare intact – Funds Planned Parenthood – Sanctuary Cities funded – Barely 24 hours to read a 2,300 page bill This Omnibus is so far from what the forgotten men and women of America voted for. I will oppose it. — Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) March 22, 2018 3. President Trump backs it with some reservations. After evidently wavering on the details during the day on Wednesday, the President took to Twitter a few hours later to trumpet some of the details in the agreement, and to knock Democrats for what’s not in the Omnibus – as there is no agreement dealing with younger illegal immigrant children, known as the “Dreamers.” “Democrats refused to take care of DACA,” the President said. “Would have been so easy, but they just didn’t care.” Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming. Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year…most ever. Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2018 4. Trump could have had much more for border wall. While the President professed himself satisfied with $1.6 billion in money for border security, Democrats reminded him that they had offered $25 billion for the wall, in exchange for provisions allowing the “Dreamers” to stay in the U.S., and for many to get on a 12-year pathway to citizenship. But for a variety of reasons, the President did not want to accept that kind of an agreement with Congress, as both parties blamed the other for the lack of a deal. As for that $1.6 billion, the bill limits where it can be used: 5. NASA sees a budget boost. With the spending spigot open in this bill, there are very few mentions of cuts in the documents handed out by Republicans, as agencies like NASA instead saw their budgets boosted. NASA – which has drawn strong words of praise from President Trump since he took office – saw its budget go above $20 billion for the first time ever, jumping just over $1 billion. That will be good news to lawmakers in Florida – and many other states – which have a piece of NASA’s research and operations. 6. Omnibus includes funds for a new Hurricane Hunter plane. After a round of devastating hurricane strikes in 2017, this spending plan will direct $121 million to buy a “suitable replacement” for a Gulfstream IV Hurricane Hunter plane, which will insure that enough planes are ready for a busy storm season. For example, in late September and early October of 2017, one of those planes had three separate mechanical problems – but when it was grounded, there was no backup plane. That’s long been a concern for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), and he noted the provision last night after the bill was released. Just learned that funding for another Hurricane Hunter jet is in the $1.3 trillion spending bill Congress will vote on this week. I've been relentless on this because 20 million Floridians are in the potential path of a hurricane & data from this aircraft saves lives & property. — Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) March 22, 2018 7. A big change for the Internal Revenue Service. After years of seeing budget reductions, the IRS was a budget winner in this Omnibus spending agreement, as the agency’s budget will go up almost $200 million to $11.43 billion. There will be $320 million specifically dedicated to implementation of the new tax cut law, which was approved late in 2017, in order to change all the forms, schedules, and internal systems to reflect those changes in tax year 2018. $350 million will be directed to improve IRS customer service, which has been suffering more and more telephone delays in recent years. It was a bit of a switch for the GOP to be bragging about how much money they were spending at the IRS, instead of vowing to find new ways to cut the budget at the tax agency. 8. Trump wanted to end transportation grants. Congress tripled them. One piece of President Trump’s budget plan for 2019, was a proposal to eliminate “TIGER” grants for infrastructure. But instead of getting rid of that $500 million program, Congress increased it by $1 billion, tripling the size of those popular transportation grants. Mr. Trump’s first budget also tried to get rid of the TIGER program, but when you look at the budget, you realize quickly that grant programs are popular in both parties, because they funnel money to the folks back home. 9. The ban on funding for a group that no longer exists. Once again, this year’s funding bills from Congress include a provision to make sure no federal dollars go to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, known as ACORN – even though ACORN has disbanded – that happened eight years ago, in 2010. But Republicans have wanted to make sure that any group which looks anything like ACORN, or might turn out to be a progressive grass roots group which acts like ACORN, doesn’t get any federal funding in the future. The new congressional spending bill once again bans funds for ACORN, an organization that once helped poor people but no longer exists. cc @zachdcarter pic.twitter.com/YJVQzOb4Fv — Arthur Delaney (@ArthurDelaneyHP) March 22, 2018 10. Death payment for a late lawmaker. Earlier this week came the sad news that Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) had died, after the 88 year old veteran lawmaker had fallen at her home. When members die while in office, it is customary for the Congress to approve a full year’s salary for that member’s spouse or estate. It’s officially known on a budget line as “Payment to Widows and Heirs of Deceased Members of Congress.” Looking through the fine print – it’s actually characterized as “mandatory” spending – and not discretionary. The House will vote first on the plan – most likely on Thursday. The Senate is expected to follow suit soon after. Lawmakers are then expected to leave town for a two week Easter break.
  • Tulsa police were called to the Rest Inn and Suites near Admiral and Memorial Tuesday night around 10:30. A man from Nebraska, with warrants for manufacturing automatic weapons, was inside and refusing to come out. The S.W.A.T team was concerned about any possible weapons inside, so they closed a part of Admiral for several hours to keep drivers away. Investigators believe the suspect, 49-year-old Rush Hembree, held a pregnant girlfriend hostage. Police say he did some damage to hotel walls trying to escape. Hembree came out of the room around 3:30pm.
  • After weeks of negotiations, Congress unveiled a $1.3 trillion funding measure for the federal government on Wednesday night, adding billions in new spending for both the Pentagon and domestic spending programs, adding in a pair of bills dealing with school safety and gun violence, but including no deals on some politically difficult issues like the future of illegal immigrant “Dreamers.” The 2,232 pages of bill text were quietly posted by GOP leaders after yet another day of closed door negotiations, which included a trip down to the White House by House Speaker Paul Ryan. “No bill of this size is perfect,” Ryan said in a written statement, as he touted the extra money in the plan for the U.S. military. “But this legislation addresses important priorities and makes us stronger at home and abroad,” Ryan added. BREAKING: Budget bargainers clinch $1.3 trillion deal bearing big defense, domestic boosts, no protections for Dreamer immigrants. — AP Politics (@AP_Politics) March 22, 2018 Among the items included in the Omnibus funding bill: + The bipartisan “Fix NICS” bill, which would press states and federal agencies to funnel more information into the instant background check system for gun buyers. + The “STOP School Violence Act,” which would send grant money to local governments to help schools better recognize possible violent threats in schools and their communities. + A series of corrections to the recent tax cut law. Even before the text of the bill was unveiled, a number of Republicans were not pleased, arguing the GOP has done little to merit the support of voters back home, saying it will mean more spending and a bigger government. “That is not in any way close to what the election was about,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who argued the President should veto the bill. Also causing some irritation was the fact that the bill was negotiated with little input from most lawmakers, and sprung on them just hours before the House and Senate were due to head out of town on a two week Easter break. We should have been on the House floor all year, in front of @cspan cameras, debating and amending spending bills. Instead, nearly all of Congress is waiting to see what omnibus bill emerges from the smoke filled room. Post offices are getting named… at least there’s that. — Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 20, 2018 It’s a good thing we have Republican control of Congress or the Democrats might bust the budget caps, fund planned parenthood and Obamacare, and sneak gun control without due process into an Omni…wait, what? — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 21, 2018 “There is not a single member of Congress who can physically read it, unless they are a speed reader,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). One of the many provisions in the bill included a $174,000 payment to the estate of the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who died earlier this week. Those type of payments are typical when a lawmaker dies while in office. GOP leaders hope to vote on the Omnibus in the House on Thursday, as lawmakers are ready to go home for a two-week break for Easter.
  • Sure. Take that quiz about which hair-metal band is your spirit animal. Share a few snaps of your toddler at the beach and watch the likes pile up. Comment on that pointed political opinion from the classmate you haven’t seen since the Reagan administration. Just remember that your familiar, comforting online neighborhood — the people you care about most and those you only kinda like — exists entirely on a corporate planet that’s endlessly ravenous to know more about you and yours. On a day when our virtual friends wrung their virtual hands about whether to leave Facebook, a thoroughly 21st-century conundrum was hammered home: When your community is a big business, and when a company’s biggest business is your community, things can get very messy. You saw that all day Tuesday as users watched the saga of Cambridge Analytica unfold and contemplated whether the chance that they had been manipulated again — that their data might have been used to influence an election — was, finally, reason enough to bid Facebook goodbye. Not an easy choice. After all, how would Mom see photos of the kids?
  • The suspected Austin serial bomber who apparently killed himself early Wednesday as authorities closed in on him was Pflugerville resident Mark A. Conditt, local and federal law enforcement sources told the American-Statesman and KVUE. >> Read more trending news As the sun rose, neighbors of the 23-year-old, who was home-schooled growing up and went to Austin Community College, struggled to wrap their minds around the news that he was the suspected bomber. “I know this is a cliché but I just can’t imagine that,” said one neighbor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and whose children grew up playing with Conditt on Pfluger Street. The neighbor described Conditt as a nice kid from a great family. Police have said that Conditt, who was home-schooled growing up, was 24, although some public records indicate he was 23. Conditt received a degree from Austin Community College’s Northridge Campus and had worked at Crux Semiconductor in Austin as a “purchasing Agent/buyer/shipping and receiving,” according to a profile on a job recruiting website. He previously worked as a computer repair technician. >> Related: Photos: Austin police investigate explosions There are very few public social media posts under his name. His mother, Danene Conditt, posted a picture of him in February 2013 to mark his completing a high school-level education. “I officially graduated Mark from High School on Friday. 1 down, 3 to go. He has 30 hrs of college credit too, but he’s thinking of taking some time to figure out what he wants to do….maybe a mission trip. Thanks to everyone for your support over the years.” >> See complete coverage of the Austin bombings from the Austin American-Statesman He and his father, Pat Conditt, purchased a Pflugerville property last year that is now valued at about $69,000. The neighbor said Mark Conditt had been living in that house, which he built with his father’s help. Police said Wednesday morning that they believe Mark Conditt created all of the explosive devices used in the recent bombings himself. They are not sure how he spent his last 24 hours and cautioned Austinites to remain vigilant in case he placed bombs that have yet to go off.