Trump threatens to cut aid to countries over UN Jerusalem vote – Trending Stuff

General assembly to vote on rejecting US recognition of city as Israeli capital with Trump warning: Were not going to be taken advantage of any longer

Donald Trump has threatened to withhold billions of dollars of US aid from countries which vote in favour of a United Nations resolution rejecting the US presidents recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

His comments came after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, wrote to about 180 of 193 member states warning that she will be taking names of countries that vote for a general assembly resolution on Thursday critical of the announcement which overturned decades of US foreign policy.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump amplified Haleys threat.

Let them vote against us, he said.

Well save a lot. We dont care. But this isnt like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars, he said. Were not going to be taken advantage of any longer.

The warning appeared aimed largely at UN members in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are regarded as more vulnerable to US pressure.

Egypt, which drafted Mondays UN security council resolution which the US vetoed, is particularly vulnerable, receiving $1.2bn in US aid last year.

But Trumps comments may also resonate elsewhere including in the UK, which is hoping to negotiate a quick post-Brexit trade deal with Washington.

The emergency UN general assembly meeting was called for Thursday to protest against the US veto at Mondays security council meeting on a resolution the Jerusalem issue which was supported by all other 14 members.

The security council resolution demanded that all countries comply with pre-existing UN security council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the citys final status be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Key US allies Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Ukraine were among the 14 countries in the 15-member council that voted in favour on Monday, and were expected to do the same at the assembly on Thursday.

Diplomats expect strong support for the resolution, which is non-binding, despite the US pressure to either abstain or vote against it. However, a council diplomat said Canada, Hungary and the Czech Republic might bow to US pressure and not support the draft resolution.

Critics point out the the Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as well as the US veto are both in opposition to numerous security council resolutions.

Trumps extraordinary intervention marked the latest escalation of diplomatic tensions over a decision that has seen the US widely criticised and isolated. It came after a day of high drama.

In a letter to UN ambassadors, Haley told countries including European delegations that she will report back to the US president with the names of those who support a draft resolution rejecting the US move at the UN general assembly on Thursday, adding that Trump took the issue personally.

The new draft resolution for Thursdays general assembly is very similar to Mondays defeated security council resolution. Unlike the security council, however, where permanent members can wield a veto, there are no veto rights in the general assembly.

The resolution reaffirms 10 security council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the citys final status must be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

It affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded.

The draft resolution demands that all states comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the holy city of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.

Referring to Haleys letter, which was disclosed by the Guardian and other media organisations on Wednesday morning, Trump said: I like the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations.

Our great citizens who love this country are tired of this country being taken advantage of were not going to be taken advantage of any longer.

In her letter, Haley wrote: As you consider your vote, I encourage you to know the president and the US take this vote personally.

The president will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those who voted against us, she continued.

Haley followed the letter by tweeting: At the UN were always asked to do more & give more. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American ppl, abt where to locate OUR embassy, we dont expect those weve helped to target us. On Thurs therell be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names.

The council is composed of 15 members. There are five permanent members:

United Kingdom
United States

There are also 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the UN general assembly. The current non-permanent members are listed below (end of term date in brackets):


Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images/Barcroft Media

Responding to the US threats, the Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, and the foreign minister of Turkey a co-sponsor of the UN vote Mevlt avuolu told reporters at Istanbuls Atatrk airport that they believed UN member countries will ignore pressure from Haley.

No honourable state would bow to such pressure, avuolu said.

The world has changed. The belief that I am strong therefore I am right has changed. The world today is revolting against injustices.

A senior diplomat from a Muslim country said of Haleys letter: States resort to such blatant bullying only when they know they do not have a moral or legal argument to convince others.

A senior western diplomat, described it as poor tactics at the United Nations but pretty good for Haley 2020 or Haley 2024, referring to speculation that Haley might run for higher office.

Shes not going to win any votes in the general assembly or the security council, but she is going to win some votes in the US population, the western diplomat said.

A senior European diplomat agreed Haley was unlikely to sway many UN states.

We are missing some leadership here from the US and this type of letter is definitely not helping to establish US leadership in the Middle East peace process, the diplomat said.

The tabling of the resolution followed a weekend of negotiations aimed at securing the widest consensus possible on the issue. The vote has underlined once again the widespread international opposition to the US move, even among some of its closest allies.

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North Korea ‘sentences Trump to death’ for insulting Kim Jong-un – Trending Stuff

Regime-run newspaper says US president is hideous criminal after he said North was a cruel dictatorship and Kim short and fat

North Koreas state media has criticised Donald Trump for insulting leader Kim Jong-Un, saying the US president deserved the death penalty and calling him a coward for cancelling a visit to the inter-Korean border.

An editorial in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun focused its anger on Trumps visit to South Korea last week, during which he denounced the Norths cruel dictatorship in a speech to legislators in Seoul.

The visit was part of a marathon five-nation Asia tour by the US president aimed largely at galvanising regional opposition to the Norths nuclear weapons ambitions.

The worst crime for which he can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership, the editorial said.

He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people, it added.

Since becoming president, Trump has engaged in an escalating war of words with Kim Jong-un, trading personal insults and threats of military strikes and raising concerns about an outbreak of hostilities.

Towards the end of his Asia tour, he sent a tweet from Hanoi that took the verbal jousting to a new level, taunting the North Korean leader over his height and weight.

Why would Kim Jong-Un insult me by calling me old, when I would NEVER call him short and fat? he tweeted.

The members of the ruling Kim dynasty past and present enjoy near god-like status in North Korea, which has demonstrated extreme sensitivity to any remark that might be seen as mocking or disrespectful of the leadership.

The editorial also took a dig at Trumps failure to tour the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas a traditional stop-off for senior US officials visiting the South.

Trumps helicopter taking him to the DMZ had turned back after just five minutes due to bad weather an explanation the newspaper dismissed.

It wasnt the weather, the editorial said: He was just too scared to face the glaring eyes of our troops.

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North Korea Warns That Nuclear War Could Break Out Any Moment – Trending Stuff

North Korea warned that a nuclear war “may break out any moment” as the U.S. and South Korea began one of the largest joint naval drills off both the east and west coasts of the peninsula.

Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said on Monday that his nation had become a “full-fledged nuclear power which possesses the delivery means of various ranges” and warned that “the entire U.S. mainland is within our firing range.” He also called North Korea “a responsible nuclear state.”

“As long as one does not take part in the U.S. military actions against the DPRK, we have no intention to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any other country,” Kim said, referring to his country’s formal name.

The comments are similar to other warnings North Korea has made over the past few months as tensions have increased with President Donald Trump’s administration. Kim Jong Un’s regime has repeatedly said it needs the capability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon in order to deter an American attack.

“They just bluff to the extreme because they think that if enough people worry about what they’re saying, that would deter U.S.-South Korean action,” Bruce Bennett, senior defense analyst at Rand Corp., said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “The problem is North Korea is used to using very extreme words to deter by bluff and by bluster, and now they’re shocked that the Americans are using a similar approach.”

Read here for more about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

Trump has said military force is an option to stop Kim and has ruled out talks with Pyongyang. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday the president wants him to push forward on diplomacy with North Korea “until the first bomb drops.”

A war of words has escalated between the two leaders in recent weeks, with Trump labeling Kim “Rocket Man” and telling the UN that the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if it attacks. Kim responded by calling Trump a “dotard” and warning of the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”

South Korean military officials are preparing for another possible missile launch from North Korea this week to counter the U.S.-South Korea drills, which include an American aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine. China’s Communist Party will also start its most important political meeting in five years on Wednesday.

A North Korean official said an intercontinental ballistic missile test could coincide with Trump’s visit to Asia next month, CNN reported, without identifying the person. The official added that two more steps are needed for Pyongyang to achieve its goal of having reliable ICBMs: an above-ground nuclear detonation and the “testing of a long-range ICBM capable of reaching Guam — and even further.”

‘Coming Disaster’

Russia on Monday urged the U.S. to reduce military drills near North Korea, reiterating a proposal for both sides to step back and calm tensions.

“I don’t remember a situation when the feeling of a coming disaster is so clear,” Tass cited Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora as saying.

Russia’s Interfax newswire reported on Monday that a meeting is possible this week between Joseph Yun, the U.S. representative for North Korea, and Choe Son Hui, head of the North American department at North Korea’s foreign ministry. Both are attending a non-proliferation conference in Moscow this week, it said.

The UN has tightened sanctions on North Korea this year in a bid to cut off cash flows that help support its nuclear program. Kim’s regime also generates billions of dollars a year dealing drugs, selling weapons, counterfeiting currencies and exploiting guest workers, according to the International Network for the Human Rights of North Korean Overseas Labor.

Lazarus, a hacking group linked to North Korea, may have been behind this month’s theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank, BAE Systems Plc researchers said on Monday. While the bank said most of the money was recovered, it’s the latest case in which Swift — the interbank messaging system used for money transfers — was used to facilitate the theft of funds from a banking institution.

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Trump too tough on Iran, North Korea, Clinton says – Trending Stuff

With his tough talk and hardline stances on Iran and North Korea, President Donald Trump is damaging America’s credibility abroad – and could provoke a nuclear-arms race in East Asia, Hillary Clinton says.

Trump’s recent threat to decertify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, “makes us look foolish and small and plays right into Iranian hands,” Clinton said last week.

“That is bad not just on the merits for this particular situation, but it sends a message across the globe that America’s word is not good,” said Clinton, who spoke in advance of Trump’s announcement Friday that he wants Congress and the other nations that negotiated the deal to toughen the requirements for Iran.

“This particular president is, I think, upending the kind of trust and credibility of the United States’ position and negotiation that is imperative to maintain.”

“This particular president is, I think, upending the kind of trust and credibility of the United States’ position and negotiation that is imperative to maintain.”

– Hillary Clinton

For his part, Trump says that Clinton, as secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, helped negotiate a “terrible” deal with Iran.

Getting tough on Iran is the right approach, the president said.

“We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout,” Trump said Friday, according to the Washington Times. “Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal.”

Clinton also denounced Trump’s bellicose language toward North Korea, saying his verbal aggression has rattled U.S. allies.

“We will now have an arms race — a nuclear arms race in East Asia,” Clinton predicted. “We will have the Japanese, who understandably are worried with missiles flying over them as the North Koreans have done, that they can’t count on America.”

Clinton stressed that a diplomatic solution was preferred, and suggested the inflammatory rhetoric played into Kim Jung Un’s hands. She bemoaned Trump’s public undercutting of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he tweeted “Save your energy, Rex” after the nation’s top diplomat had suggested negotiations.

“Diplomacy, preventing war, creating some deterrents is slow, hard-going, difficult work,” said Clinton, who declined to answer when asked whether Tillerson should resign. “And you can’t have impulsive people or ideological people who basically say, ‘Well, we’re done with you.’”

Trump on Sept. 21 signed an executive order calling for a new round of economic sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The president said the actions were aimed at “a complete denuclearization of North Korea,” the Washington Times reported.

“North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development is a grave threat to peace and security in our world,” Trump said. “It is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal rogue regime.”

Clinton, who recently released a book that recounts her election defeat to Trump, has been an aggressive critic of the president.

In an interview with Britain’s BBC on Friday, Clinton called Trump a “sexual assaulter.”

Clinton made the comments when asked about the allegations of sexual assault made against Democratic mega-donor and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. 

“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated anywhere, whether it’s in entertainment, politics,” Clinton said. “After all, we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office.”

In the same interview, Clinton referred to the sexual transgressions of her husband – former President Bill Clinton – as being “clearly in the past,” Fox News reported.

Clinton’s comments on Iran and North Korea were scheduled to air Sunday on CNN. The White House did not immediately return a request to respond to her remarks.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Trump ‘seething’ as Mueller probe reaches former aides – Trending Stuff

Washington (CNN)The dramatic intensification of the Russia investigation on Monday reignited President Donald Trump’s fury at the controversy clouding his presidency, prompting his aides to urgently advise him against lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller as they work to revive a halting policy agenda.

Watching the developments unfold on the large television screens installed in his private residence, Trump was “seething,” according to a Republican close to the White House.

The indictments on Monday of campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates weren’t a surprise to Trump, according to people who have spoken with the President. Trump has long assumed that members of his presidential campaign would be swept up in Mueller’s probe.
The revelation that another campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI was far less expected, the sources said. And the assumption that Papadopoulos is cooperating with the FBI’s Russia probe stirred even more unease among Trump’s allies.

Even as the White House sought to downplay the developments, the charges only served to fuel questions about Trump’s ties to Russia, which he has angrily denied and worked to discredit.

A question Trump asked on Twitter — punctuated by five question marks — offered the clearest window into his mindset: “But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????”

The President’s attempt to change the subject was complicated by the highly detailed indictments of his two former aides, which painted Manafort as a well-compensated broker of pro-Russian interests. It was complicated even more by the unveiling of a guilty plea from a third adviser who had repeated contacts with officials close to the Kremlin — the clearest connection so far between the Trump campaign and Russia.

As revelations from the Russia investigation rocked Washington on Monday, Trump spent much of the day hunkered down, surrounded by only a handful of aides in the third-story living quarters of the White House.

Huddled with members of his legal team — including Ty Cobb, his in-house lawyer focused on the Mueller probe; John Dowd, an outside legal adviser; and Jay Sekulow, who called into the White House from his base in Nashville — Trump was bolstered by the sense among his team that the charges against Manafort bore only the loosest connections to the presidential campaign. He griped that Manafort’s role on his campaign had taken outsized importance in the media, and insisted his former chairman played only a minor role.

Senior aides, according to a senior White House official, expected Mueller to target top members of Trump’s campaign team like Manafort, but the addition of Papadopoulos surprised the President.

“The President is going, ‘Really, this is the guy?’ ” a senior White House official said in describing Trump’s reaction to Papadopoulos’ guilty plea.

As the morning carried on, however, Trump grew increasingly frustrated as he viewed cable news coverage of his onetime campaign chairman arriving at the FBI field office in downtown Washington, believing his former aides’ roles were being inflated.

Full combat mode

The West Wing suddenly was back in full combat mode, with an internal tug-of-war emerging over how aggressively Trump should seek to discredit Mueller and his investigation. Even as White House lawyers urged the President to avoid directly criticizing Mueller, other advisers — including his former chief strategist Steve Bannon — suggested he aggressively push back.

“Calling for Mueller’s firing would undercut the White House argument,” one senior administration official told CNN.

Cobb, a White House lawyer, has been a leading voice inside the West Wing to urge cooperation with Mueller’s investigation. White House chief of staff John Kelly has reinforced that argument inside the administration. Both have told Trump that providing Mueller with information — including, potentially, an interview with the President himself — would allow the investigation to reach a conclusion quicker.

Their recommendations have gone beyond simply cooperation, however; Cobb and Kelly have both warned Trump that spouting off on Mueller on Twitter or during friendly interviews on Fox News would backfire badly.

For the past several months, Trump has largely followed that advice. But as word of indictments emerged late last week, other members of his team — both West Wing aides and informal advisers — have said that Trump’s kid-gloves approach to Mueller has yielded no results.

Bannon, who was dismissed in August, has told associates that Trump’s legal team is steering the President in the wrong direction, and has suggested a more combative approach to Mueller, according to administration officials.

A source familiar with Bannon’s thinking tells CNN that he is urging the President to start to fight back aggressively against Mueller.

He wants the White House to get Republicans to cut funding, publicly debate Mueller’s mandate and slow down document production in court. But so far there is no evidence that Trump is willing to change course and several Republican lawmakers have warned against going after Mueller.

“The President frequently changes his mind,” said one person familiar with the President’s legal strategy, “and we are always revisiting every plan.”

Another person familiar with the President’s thinking said it wouldn’t be surprising for more lawyers to join Trump’s legal team.

‘Continuing to cooperate’

Many of the President’s allies have privately speculated that Monday’s indictments only made it more likely he would ultimately find some way of hampering the probe, including potentially dismissing Mueller.

Cobb took care to note in a statement the President was “continuing to cooperate” with the special counsel’s office and investigation, and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders would only say Monday the President has “no intention or plan” to fire Mueller.

During his morning session with his lawyers, Trump asked for an explanation of the federal grand jury indictment process, and why a sealed indictment was used, according to a senior White House official. He was also interested to know whether the indictments signaled that the investigation is speeding up toward its conclusion, the official said.

Officially, the White House insists the probe is nearing its end.

“We still expect this to conclude soon,” Sanders said.

But privately, there are few legal experts or even close allies of Trump who believe Mueller is close to finished.

A sense of tension and uncertainty was palpable in the West Wing on Monday, officials said, as they sought to keep the President focused on the week’s busy calendar. The dramatic scaling up of Mueller’s investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia comes ahead of what the White House hoped would be a policy-centric several weeks, with the opportunity to reset an off-course agenda.

Republicans on Wednesday are set to visit the White House after unveiling their tax plan on Capitol Hill. Trump is expected to introduce Jerome Powell as his Federal Reserve chairman on Thursday. And on Friday he departs for a 12-day trip to Asia, where North Korea’s nuclear threat will demand full attention.

Presidential trip looms

Trump’s Asia swing amounts to the longest presidential trip to that continent in decades, a fact that has some of his advisers anxious about the results that jet lag and a foreign environment could have on the President’s mindset.

It won’t be the first time Trump has departed overseas just as a swirl of Russia-related scandal mounts back home. A day before he departed for his first presidential foreign trip in May, the Justice Department appointed Mueller as special counsel, ensuring the story would follow Trump on his stops in the Middle East and Europe.

Trump avoided tweeting almost entirely on that first swing, his cantankerous mood tempered by the presence of his wife, Melania, and a rapid-pace schedule that included stops in five countries.

Some of Trump’s advisers have already expressed the hope his trip to Asia proceeds in similar fashion — though they acknowledge that attempts to rein in Trump’s behavior often result in the President entrenching himself in the very actions his advisers recommended against.

Trump, meanwhile, has expressed concern the special counsel’s ongoing investigation could hurt his ability to negotiate with foreign leaders as he prepares to head to Asia.

“He worries about his ability to negotiate with various entities and how much he’s hamstrung by this,” the official said, adding the President feels hobbled by the investigation and he and the White House believe he will be in a stronger position politically and internationally once the investigation concludes.

At the heart of the President’s fury is the very existence of the special counsel, for which he still blames Attorney General Jeff Session and his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

At a previously scheduled lunch on Monday with Sessions in the private dining room just off the Oval Office, an official said the President did not raise the Russia investigation. Rather, a spokesman said, they talked about immigration, the opioid epidemic and upcoming judicial appointments.

And Trump revealed few outward worries when he emerged in public late in the day Monday to greet trick-or-treaters from a spider-webbed White House South Portico. With Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” blaring from the speakers, Trump handed out plastic-wrapped cookies and high-fived costumed kids — including a skeleton in a “Make America Great Again” hat.

But when a reporter shouted a question about the day’s indictments, all Trump did was wave.

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Trump embarks on 13-day foreign trip to Asia – Trending Stuff

President Trump embarked on a 13-day trip Friday, with the first stop in Hawaii, ahead of his visit to five major Asian countries in his longest overseas trip to date amid the escalating North Korea threat.

The president and first lady departed the White House Friday morning, stopping to chat with reporters on their way to Air Force One.

“We are about to begin a long trip,” Trump said, noting that the White House had extended the trip, and added an extra day in the Philippines. “We have a big conference, a second conference. And I think we’re going to have great success.”

Trump said that he would be talking about “trade,” and the threat of North Korea.

“We’ll be enlisting the help of a lot people and countries and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “But I think we’re going to have a very successful trip. There is a lot of good will.”

According to administration officials, the president’s trip will be the longest trip to Asia by a president since 1991, when President George H.W. Bush was in office.

The president’s trip comes amid the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election. 

Trump said again Friday before boarding Air Force One that there was “no collusion.” 

Minutes after take-off, the president tweeted details of his trip. 

“Just took off for ceremony @ Pearl Harbor. Will then be heading to Japan, SKorea, China, Vietnam & the Philippines. Will never let you down!” Trump said. 

The president’s first stop, before heading overseas, is in Hawaii, where he will meet with U.S. Pacific Command, and visit Pearl Harbor and the Pearl Harbor memorial.

By Sunday, the president will be in Japan, where he is slated to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for meetings. As they did at Mar-A-Lago, Trump and Abe will play a round of golf at a country club in Japan—this time, joined by the world’s No. 4 golfer, Hideki Matsuyama.

Trump’s visit in Japan, according to the White House, will include meetings with service members and bilateral meetings.

The president is also expected to meet with families of Japanese citizens abducted by Kim Jong Un’s rogue regime.

Trump and Abe spoke earlier this week, and “affirmed the important of promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” and “maintaining close coordination” between the United States and Japan, and with the international community “to maximize pressure on North Korea.”

The president’s next stop will be South Korea, where he will have a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Trump will meet with service members, and also is slated for a speech at the National Assembly in Seoul.

A senior administration official told reporters during a White House background briefing this week that there was not enough time in the president’s schedule to accommodate a trip to the Demilitarized Zone, which has separated North Korea and South Korea for 64 years.

Instead of the DMZ, Trump will visit military base Camp Humphreys, which is set 40 miles south of Seoul, to highlight the U.S.-South Korean partnership.

The president’s trip to South Korea comes amid escalating tensions and rhetoric between the U.S. and North Korea.

Trump said in his United Nations speech in September that he would “totally destroy” the rogue nation, if necessary. He also has continually dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “little Rocket Man.”

Trump’s next stop is China, an important visit that will draw much attention amid the president’s  expected requests for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump is expected to ask Xi, whom he hosted at Mar-A-Lago earlier this year, to impose limits on oil exports and coal imports with North Korea, as well as broader limits on financial transactions with the regime, Reuters reported. China is responsible for more than 90 percent of all trade with North Korea.

“Melania and I look forward to being with President Xi & Madame Peng Liyuan in China in two weeks for what will hopefully be a historic trip!” Trump tweeted last month.

Trump’s next stop is Vietnam, where he will take part in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) events, according to the White House.

Trump will go to the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi for an official visit and bilateral engagements with President Tran Dai Quang and other senior Vietnamese leaders.

The final stop for Trump is the Philippines. The president was only slated to be in the Philippines for one day, but on Friday announced an additional day.

Trump is set for a bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been accused of human rights abuses, including killing suspected drug dealers. The White House has said that Trump could raise concerns with the program, though Duterte and Trump shared a “warm rapport” during a phone conversation.

While in the Philippines, the president will also attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 50th anniversary dinner. ASEAN consists of ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Trump  will celebrate the 40th anniversary of U.S.-ASEAN relations at the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and participate in bilateral meetings with Duterte and other leaders.

“The president’s trip will focus on three goals,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters at the White House press briefing Thursday. “First, strengthening international resolve to denuclearize North Korea. Second, promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Third, advance American prosperity through fair and reciprocal trade and economic practices.”

McMaster added that the president would “reiterate the plain fact” that North Korea is a “threat to the entire world,” also promising that Trump would continue to call on “all responsible nations” to isolate the North Korean regime “economically and politically.”

Fox News’ Serafin Gomez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

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Cold Blast Headed for Europe Won’t Faze a Very Warm 2017 – Trending Stuff

Europe’s coldest December for seven years is unlikely to derail what will probably be one of the warmest years on record.

In a last chilly blast, the first half of this month will be unusually cold before warming to near normal temperatures, according to eight meteorologists surveyed by Bloomberg. December may still be the coolest since 2010 as high pressure near Iceland and northwest Russia funnels arctic winds south, said Tyler Roys, an Accuweather Inc. meteorologist in State College, Pennsylvania.

While Europe is seen well-supplied for electricity this winter and natural gas stocks are higher than average for the time of year, those buffers could be tested in extended spells of extreme cold. China forecasts it will have gas shortages this winter, which may mean competition with Europe for liquefied natural gas cargoes already trading at the highest for the time of year since 2014.

“Extreme, even dangerous cold does threaten at times this winter including in December,” said Joe D’Aleo, WeatherBell Analytics LLC’s chief meteorologist. “Snow will develop in east Europe as it cools and will spread back toward the center with some possible in the U.K.”

The chilly start to December is already here. In Germany, temperatures are predicted to drop to near-freezing on Saturday versus a 10-year average of 3.4 degrees Celsius (38 Fahrenheit), according to Weather Co. data on Bloomberg. Czech Republic temperatures are set to fall below zero over the coming days.

The coldest conditions in the first half of December will be in Norway and across the southwest of Europe before warmer conditions return, according to MDA Information Systems Inc., a weather forecaster based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This year is on track to be one of the warmest on record, said Rebecca Fuller, a senior meteorologist at MDA.

To read more on rising global temperatures, click here

Milder temperatures may protect against energy price jumps, while higher-than-usual inventories of natural gas may help prevent the sort of fuel scarcity that occurred last winter. Spot LNG prices in northeast Asia rose 20 cents last week to $9.90 per million British thermal units, matching the highest level since January 2015, according to a report from World Gas Intelligence

“I think storages have sufficient slack to accommodate a period of cold during December,” said Pierluigi Frison, a gas trader at Green Network U.K. Plc in London. “The big question is whether they will be able to do so later in the winter with lower stocks, if LNG prices in Asia remain this high.”

Also helping energy prices remain low will be high winds, which lowers the need for gas-fired power plants. Wind supply in the U.K. may surge past a record, set Monday, on Dec. 7, according to data from Elexon.

In early December “it looks like winds will gradually pick up,” particularly over the U.K. and Benelux and Germany, said Giacomo Masato, London-based meteorologist for Marex Spectron. “The tendency is toward high volatility with spells of very weak winds, but then subsequent spells of relatively strong winds.”

A change to milder weather in northern Europe seems probable by the middle of the month, but additional cold snaps, especially in the south, are still likely later in December, according to Matthew Dobson, a senior meteorologist at MeteoGroup U.K. Ltd.

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Philippine GDP Growth Exceeds 6% for a Ninth Consecutive Quarter – Trending Stuff

The Philippine economy grew more than 6 percent for a ninth consecutive quarter, cementing its position as one of the fastest-expanding in the world.

Big Picture

The Philippines is emerging as one of this decade’s economic stars with the World Bank predicting growth of more than 6 percent until 2019, underpinned by an ambitious infrastructure building program and a young and growing population. President Rodrigo Duterte has secured loans from China and Japan to help finance $180 billion of spending on projects such as the capital’s first subway and a network of railways and highways across the archipelago.

More than $50 billion of remittances and outsourcing revenue a year is helping support consumer spending, and luring retailers such as home furnishing giant Ikea. The central bank has so far kept interest rates at a record low, bolstering spending, but may be persuaded to tighten policy next year as currency weakness adds to pressure on inflation. The peso has dropped to an 11-year low this year and is the worst performing unit in Asia.

Other Details

  • Consumer spending, which makes up about 70 percent of GDP, gained 4.5 percent from a year earlier
  • Government spending rose 8.3 percent
  • Capital formation investment increased 6.6 percent
Key Points
  • Gross domestic product increased 6.9 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority said in Manila Thursday, after expanding a revised 6.7 percent in the previous three months
  • The median estimate of 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for growth of 6.6 percent

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Trump says he believes Putin’s election meddling denials – Trending Stuff

Da Nang, Vietnam (CNN)President Donald Trump suggested on Saturday he’s done confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin over his country’s election meddling since it’s insulting to the Russian leader.

Trump said he took Putin at his word that Russia did not seek to interfere in the US presidential election last year, despite a finding from US intelligence agencies that it did. The fraught relations between the two leaders was underscored anew when Putin’s spokesman initially said election meddling did not come up when they spoke, even though Trump said it did.

And he stressed that bigger issues persist between the United States and Russia that require the two leaders to move on.

“He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he flew from Da Nang to Hanoi in Vietnam. Trump spoke to Putin three times on the sidelines of summit here, where the Russia meddling issue arose.

“Every time he sees me, he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ ” Trump said. “And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it.”

“I think he is very insulted by it,” Trump added.

On Sunday, Trump was asked to clarify his Air Force One comments about Putin and the election meddling.

“I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe it or not, I am with our agencies, especially as currently constituted with the leadership,” Trump said during a joint press briefing in Hanoi, Vietnam.

“I believe that our intel agencies, our intelligence agencies, I work with them very strongly … As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies,” Trump said.

As Trump has traveled abroad, the special counsel investigation looking into possible collusion between his campaign aides and Russia has crept closer to Trump’s inner circle.

‘There was no collusion’

Jetting from Tokyo to Seoul to Beijing, Trump has largely remained quiet about the Russia investigation back home. But on his flight, which departed Da Nang in the early evening Saturday, Trump’s simmering anger over the Russia matter burst forth.

“There was no collusion. Everybody knows there was no collusion,” Trump insisted. “I think it’s a shame that something like that could destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are really important countries.”

He added he thought that Putin and he could “have the potential to have a very, very good relationship.”

Trump’s acceptance of Putin’s denial that Russia sought to sway the election in his favor seemingly runs counter to assessments by US intelligence agencies. While describing his relationship with Putin and the ongoing investigations into 2016 meddling, Trump seemed to indicate on Saturday that he trusts Putin’s denials more than the comments of former intelligence officials, like former high-ranking intelligence officials James Comey, John Brennan and James Clapper.

“I mean, give me a break, they are political hacks,” Trump said. “So you look at it, I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he is proven now to be a leaker. So you look at that and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with them.”

When asked for comment about the President’s comments, the CIA said in a statement that the man Trump picked to lead the agency, Mike Pompeo, reiterated his support for US intelligence findings and that the “assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.”

The agency declined to comment further.

Trump said Sunday: “As currently led, by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies.”

The discrepancies between Putin and American officials weren’t worth debating when other security issues require the two men’s attention, Trump said Saturday.

“You are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine,” he said.

“I can’t stand there and argue with him,” he added. “I’d rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I’d rather have him, you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing.”

In a tweet Sunday morning local time, Trump said he had a “good discussion” with Putin on Syria and North Korea, making no mention of the election meddling. He added: “When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!”

Conspiracy invented by Democrats

Trump repeated his claims that Russian interference in the US election is a conspiracy invented by Democrats to distract from their electoral losses. And he implied that investigators looking into his campaign aides’ ties to Moscow were better off probing elsewhere.

“That whole thing was set up by the Democrats,” Trump declared Saturday.

Trump’s comments, which came after a two-day stay at this seaside resort, reflected ongoing frustration at his inability to warm ties with Moscow, which he pledged to do on the campaign trail.

While attending meetings for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the question loomed whether he would meet with Putin, either formally or in a casual pull-aside chat.

Ahead of Trump’s arrival, his aides indicated that a meeting was possible. The Kremlin indicated the same. But as the summit wore on, US and Russian officials diverged in their public statements, with American officials saying a meeting wasn’t happening and Russian officials indicating it still might.

Trump and Putin did speak at various occasions throughout the summit, and agreed to release a joint statement on Syria. But they did not sit for formal talks. Trump has met his Russian counterpart only one for such a face-to-face bilateral session, at the G20 summit in Germany in July.

Following those talks, Trump’s aides insisted he raised the election meddling issue with Putin and expressed concerns about the issue. But Putin, speaking to reporters in Hamburg, said Trump had accepted his denials.

After Trump departed Da Nang on Saturday, Putin similarly spoke during an on-camera press briefing. He said US-Russia ties remained in a precarious condition.

“The relations between Russia and the US have not come out of the crisis state yet,” he said. “As you know, and I often talk about it, we are prepared to turn the page and go forward to look into the future to solve the problems that are of interest to people of the United States and people of the Russian Federation.”

Peskov told CNN’s Matthew Chance earlier Saturday that, as far as he knew, Putin and Trump did not discuss meddling in the elections, though he later said it was discussed between the two leaders.

“Putin told Trump these reports have no ground and categorically rejected even the hypothetical possibility that Russia could somehow interfere in the election process,” Peskov said, according to state news agency RIA.

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Categories CNN

At least 20 feared dead in mass shooting at Texas church – Trending Stuff

At least 20 people are feared dead in Texas after a gunman opened fire at a church outside San Antonio on Sunday, Fox News has learned.

The “mass shooting” was reported at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, which is about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. The gunman has been fatally shot by police, Fox News has confirmed.

A witness told KSAT that a man walked into the church about 11:30 a.m. Sunday and opened fire at the crowd of people. The church holds morning worship services at 11 a.m., according to its website.

Constable Thomas Silvas from Precinct 1 in Wilson County confirmed to Fox News there was a “mass shooting” situation and that officials were working on removing the bodies from the church, but did not specify the number of people who were dead or wounded.

“We have accepted a multiple number of patients from the shooting,” Megan Posey, a spokeswoman for Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville, 15 miles from church, told Fox News. She said she did not have a specific number. She said doctors were assessing the patients.

Helicopters and emergency personnel were seen arriving at the scene. The FBI is also on scene.

President Trump, who’s currently traveling in Asia, tweeted: “May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted shortly after the incident was reported: “Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response. More details from DPS soon.”

Sutherland Springs has a population of about 400 residents, according to Fox 29 San Antonio.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. Fox News’ Robert Gearty and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

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