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Summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will be after US elections on November 6: Donald Trump

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…As ‘Monstrous’ Hurricane Michael set to hit Florida***

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his second summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be held after the US midterm elections on November 6. Speaking to reporters as he flew to Iowa for a political rally, Trump said: “It’ll be after the midterms. I just can`t leave now.”

Earlier, Trump had said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had very good talks with Kim over the weekend and that three or four locations were being considered.

Pompeo had echoed Trump`s comments when he briefly spoke to reporters during a Tuesday afternoon visit to the White House. “While there`s still a long way to go and much work to do, we can now see a path where we will achieve (our) ultimate goal, which is the full and final verified denuclearisation of North Korea,” he said.

Trump and Kim held a historic first summit in Singapore on June 12 at which Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. However, his actions have fallen short of Washington`s demands for a complete inventory of its weapons and facilities and irreversible steps to give up its nuclear arsenal, which could threaten the United States. Still, Trump was upbeat on progress made so far.

“You got no rockets flying, you have no missiles flying, you have no nuclear testing,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “We`ve made incredible progress – beyond incredible. “But I have agreed to meet,” he said. “We have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim. I like him, he likes me, the relationship is good.”

Pompeo said on Monday the two sides were “pretty close” to agreeing on details for a second summit. He also said Kim had said he was ready to allow international inspectors into North Korea`s Punggye-ri nuclear testing site and the Sohae missile engine test facility as soon as the United States and North Korea agreed on logistics.

However, experts questioned what Pompeo had achieved on Sunday on his fourth visit to Pyongyang this year. They said the North Korean leader appeared simply to be repackaging and dragging out past pledges.

Trump noted that the United States has not lifted the “very big sanctions” it has imposed on Pyongyang. “I`d love to remove them, but we have to get something for doing it,” Trump said.

North Korea is very interested in reaching some sort of agreement on denuclearization so that it can grow economically with the benefit of the foreign investment closed to it now, Trump said.

The U.N. World Food Program said on Tuesday that the supply of food remains precarious in North Korea, where one in five children is stunted by malnutrition. More than 10 million North Koreans, nearly 40 percent of the population, are undernourished and need humanitarian aid, it said.

“I will tell you they`re calling, wanting to go there and wanting to invest,” Trump said. “At some point, when Chairman Kim makes that decision, I think he`s going to unleash something that`s going to be spectacular, really spectacular. “And I think he knows it and I think that`s one of the reasons that we`re having very successful conversations.”

In the meantime, hurricane Michael has been upgraded to an “extremely dangerous” category 4 storm, hours before it is due to make landfall in Florida.

The storm has sustained winds of 130mph (210km/h) and is due to make landfall at about midday (16:00 GMT).

More than 370,000 people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate and move to higher ground.

At least 13 people reportedly died in Central America over the weekend as a result of storm rains and floods.

Florida has declared a state of emergency, as have Alabama and Georgia.

What are the latest developments?

In its latest bulletin, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Michael had become “an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane”.

It warned of a life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds and heavy rainfall along the north-eastern Gulf coast.

Michael, it added, could see some additional strengthening before it made landfall in the Florida Panhandle or Big Bend area.

At 02:00 local time on Wednesday, the eye of Michael was about 170 miles south-west of the coastal city of Apalachicola.

The NHC warns that some regions of Florida may experience storm surges of up to 13ft (4m).

Michael is currently moving northwards at 12mph.

On the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, category 4 includes winds of up to 156mph with possible severe damage to even well-built homes and trees being felled.

“Weakening is expected after landfall as Michael moves across the south-eastern United States,” the NHC added.

Florida Governor Rick Scott called Michael “monstrous storm” and urged residents to listen to officials.

Zee News with additional report from BBC

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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