Posts Tagged ‘John Bolton’

North Korea calls high-level talks with Pompeo ‘regrettable’

July 7, 2018

North Korea said Saturday that high-level talks with a U.S. delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were “regrettable” and accused Washington of trying to unilaterally pressure the country into abandoning its nukes.

The North’s statement came hours after Pompeo wrapped up two days of talks with senior North Korean officials without meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but with commitments for new discussions on denuclearization and the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War.

The Associated Press

Before departing Pyongyang, Pompeo told reporters that his conversations with senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol had been “productive,” conducted “in good faith” and that “a great deal of progress” had been made in some areas. He stressed that “there’s still more work to be done” in other areas, much of which would be done by working groups that the two sides have set up to deal with specific issues.

The North provided a much harsher assessment of the talks, saying that the United States betrayed the spirit of last month’s summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim by making “one-sided and robber-like” demands on “CVID,” or the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.

It said the outcome of the follow-up talks was “very concerning” because it has led to a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm.”

“We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of the leaders’ summit … we were also thinking about providing reciprocal measures,” an unnamed spokesman of Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

“However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting (between the countries) was no doubt regrettable,” the spokesman said.

Pompeo said that a Pentagon team would be meeting with North Korean officials on or about July 12 at the border between North and South Korea to discuss the repatriation of remains and that working level talks would be held soon on the destruction of North Korea’s missile engine testing facility.

In the days following his historic June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, President Donald Trump had announced that the return of the remains and the destruction of the missile facility had been completed or were in progress.

Pompeo, however, said that more talks were needed on both.

“We now have a meeting set up for July 12 — it could move by one day or two — where there will be discussions between the folks responsible for the repatriation of remains. (It) will take place at the border and that process will begin to develop over the days that follow,” he said as he boarded his plane for Tokyo.

On the destruction of the missile engine plant, Pompeo said, “We talked about what the modalities would look like for the destruction of that facility as well, and some progress there as well, and then we have laid out a path for further negotiation at the working level so the two teams can get together and continue these discussions.”

Earlier, Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol both said they needed clarity on the parameters of an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula that Trump and Kim Jong Un agreed to in Singapore. The trip was Pompeo’s third to Pyongyang since April and his first since the summit.

Unlike his previous visits, which have been one-day affairs during which he has met with Kim Jong Un, Pompeo spent the night at a government guesthouse in Pyongyang and did not see the North Korean leader, although U.S. officials had suggested such a meeting was expected. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said no meeting with Kim Jong Un had been planned.

As they began their talks on Saturday, Kim Yong Chol alluded to the fact that Pompeo and his delegation had stayed overnight in Pyongyang.

“We did have very serious discussions on very important matters yesterday,” Kim said. “So, thinking about those discussions you might have not slept well last night.”

Pompeo, who spoke with Trump, national security adviser John Bolton and White House chief of staff John Kelly by secure phone before starting Saturday’s session, replied that he “slept just fine.” He added that the Trump administration was committed to reaching a deal under which North Korea would denuclearize and realize economic benefits in return.

Kim later said that “there are things that I have to clarify” to which Pompeo responded that “there are things that I have to clarify as well.”

There was no immediate explanation of what needed to be clarified, but the two sides have been struggling to specify what exactly “denuclearization” would entail and how it could be verified to the satisfaction of the United States.

Pompeo and Kim met for nearly three hours Friday and then had dinner amid growing skepticism over how serious Kim Jong Un is about giving up his nuclear arsenal and translating the upbeat rhetoric following his summit with Trump into concrete action.

On his flight to Pyongyang, Pompeo said both sides made commitments at the Singapore summit on the complete denuclearization of North Korea and on what a transformed relationship between their two countries might look like.

One hoped-for breakthrough on this trip would have been the return of the remains of U.S. troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea committed at last month’s summit to the “immediate repatriation” of remains already identified, but that hasn’t happened yet

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https://nypost.com/2018/07/07/north-korea-calls-talks-with-pompeo-regrettable/
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North Korea Calls U.S. Stance in Latest Talks ‘Regrettable’

July 7, 2018

Apparent disconnect follows latest nuclear discussions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greets Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee upon arrival at Pyongyang International Airport on Saturday.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greets Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee upon arrival at Pyongyang International Airport on Saturday. PHOTO: KCNA/ZUMA PRESS
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BREAKING:

* North Korea Says Attitude and Stance Shown by U.S. During Latest Talks Are ‘Regrettable’

* Says U.S. Only Came Forward With ‘Unilateral and Firm Denuclearization Demands’ That Ran Counter to Singapore Talks

* Says Issues Raised by U.S. are Similar to Ones Previous Administrations Have Insisted On and Are ‘Cancerous’ Issues That Just Amplify Distrust and Risk of War

*** Earlier article below will update ***

TOKYO—U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended a second day of nuclear talks with North Korean officials saying that progress had been made and working groups would continue discussions but offered scant detail on key issues separating the two sides.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, who met Mr. Pompeo on both previous visits to Pyongyang, did not meet the U.S. secretary of state on this occasion.

“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues,” Mr. Pompeo said in Pyongyang before boarding the flight to Tokyo Saturday. “Some places, a great deal of progress; other places there’s still more work to be done.”

The secretary of state declined to comment on a possible timeline for North Korea’s denuclearization or say when North Korea might provide a declaration of its nuclear assets, both seen as crucial steps in the process. In return, the U.S. has dangled the prospect of economic investment once sanctions have been lifted.

“I’m not going to get into details of our conversations but we spent a good deal of time talking about each of those two things and I think we made progress in every element of our discussions,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Mr. Pompeo also demurred on a timeline for the repatriation of U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War, saying the Defense Department would meet the North Koreans for a discussion about the process on July 12.

“The repatriation of remains will take place at the border and that process will begin to develop over the days that follow,” he said.

President Donald Trump told a rally in Minnesota more than two weeks ago that the repatriation had already taken place. Defense Department officials have not provided an explanation for the delay.

Gen. Kim Yong Chol, one of Mr. Kim’s top lieutenants, and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho shook hands with Mr. Pompeo at the airport as he was departing amid a brief conversation.

The weekend talks have been the highest-level engagement between the U.S. and North Korea since Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim met on June 12 in Singapore and signed an agreementto work toward “the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” without specifying the details.

Since then, satellite imagery published in reports last week showed North Korea is rapidly expanding a weapons-manufacturing plant that produces solid fuel missiles and has upgraded its main nuclear research facilities. On Friday, a senior South Korean official reported that Pyongyang is also working on a submarine capable of launching a nuclear-armed ballistic missile.

Mr. Pompeo said that the reports had been raised during the meetings and the two parties had discussed how to implement the agreement made at the Singapore summit.

“No one walked away from that; they’re still equally committed, Chairman Kim is still committed,” he said.

U.S. officials traveling with Mr. Pompeo told reporters he spoke to Mr. Trump on a secure line earlier Saturday after a first day of talks, with National Security Adviser John Bolton and chief of staff John Kelly on the line. No account was provided of the call.

Mr. Pompeo was accompanied to Pyongyang by a delegation from the State Department, National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Mr. Pompeo had been “very firm” in seeking three main goals: the complete denuclearization of North Korea, security assurances and the repatriation of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Ms. Nauert said the U.S. position had not softened, but did not explain when asked why U.S. officials have stopped using the phrase “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” as first used to describe the goal of the talks.

Write to Jessica Donati at Jessica.Donati@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/pompeo-cites-progress-in-north-korea-nuclear-talks-1530967772

Secretary of State Pompeo leaves North Korea with promise of more talks but no tangible breakthrough

July 7, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came away from a two-day visit to North Korea on Saturday without meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or securing a breakthrough in efforts to implement the denuclearization agreement signed by Washington and Pyongyang in Singapore last month.

But the top U.S. diplomat — before leaving Pyongyang — said the meetings with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, were “productive” and he claimed progress on “central issues” between the two longtime adversaries.

His rosy outlook was almost immediately rejected by North Korea’s foreign ministry, which called the U.S. attitude to the talks “regrettable” and accused the United States of making unilateral demands for denuclearization.

Pompeo just hours earlier said the two sides engaged in “good-faith negotiations.”

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Kim Yong Chol, second from right, in Pyongyang on July 7. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters)
The Washington Post
July 7 at 9:32 AM

Pompeo has come under increasing pressure to produce tangible results from a June 12 summit that President Trump quickly touted as a game-changing moment that eliminated North Korea’s nuclear threat.

But analysts said the reality is now sinking in that any final accord between the two nations to eliminate Pyongyang’s sophisticated nuclear and missile arsenal will be a long slog with no guarantee of success.

“While we were hopeful there would be some sort of breakthrough, it seems both sides agreed to merely keep talking,” said Harry Kazianis, an Asia expert at the Center for the National Interest.

Pompeo told reporters that the two countries would soon hold working-level talks on the destruction of Pyongyang’s missile-engine-testing facility. He also said Pentagon officials will meet with their North Korean counterparts on or near July 12 at the demilitarized zone between the Koreas to discuss the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers from the Korean War.

Last month, Trump told a crowd of supporters that the remains of 200 people had “been sent back,” but U.S. military officials later said that was not the case. U.S. officials viewed the issue as an easy confidence-building measure to demonstrate North Korea’s sincerity and have been frustrated with the speed of Pyongyang’s follow-through.

Pompeo said both the testing facility issue and recovering U.S. remains still need to be finalized.

“We now have a meeting set up for July 12 — it could move by one day or two — where there will be discussions between the folks responsible for the repatriation of remains,” he said.

When asked if he got any closer to setting out a timeline to denuclearize, Pompeo said, “I’m not going to get into details of our conversations but we spent a good deal of time talking . . . and I think we made progress in every element of our discussions.”

Pompeo’s visit to North Korea forced the United States to postpone a planned meeting of U.S. and Indian defense and foreign ministers, so expectations were high among Japanese and South Korean officials that Pompeo would meet with Kim Jong Un during the two-day visit. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, however, said the United States had no expectation of a meeting with Kim.

“Chairman Kim is keeping his distance, perhaps considering how he will able to win sanctions relief without taking serious denuclearization steps,” said Patrick Cronin, an Asia expert at the Center for a New American Security.

Ahead of the new round of talks, Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s septuagenarian former spy chief, teased Pompeo, suggesting that the “serious” negotiations the night before may have caused Pompeo to lose sleep.

“We did have very serious discussion on very important matters yesterday. So thinking about those discussions, you might have not slept well last night,” Kim said.

“Director Kim, I slept just fine,” Pompeo responded, according to a pool report provided by reporters accompanying the secretary of state.

Kim, a regime hard-liner who is careful not to act outside North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s instructions, said he needed to “clarify” aspects of his nearly three-hour negotiations Friday with Pompeo, a desire the top U.S. diplomat immediately echoed.

“There are things that I have to clarify as well,” Pompeo said.

The display of small talk between North Korean and U.S. officials, a rarity given the infrequent contacts between the longtime adversaries, revealed both the tension at the heart of the nuclear negotiations and the increasing familiarity of the two men who have become diplomatic counterparts during Pompeo’s three visits to Pyongyang and Kim’s visit to New York City in May.

Nauert said Pompeo was being “very firm” in seeking three basic goals from the visit: the complete denuclearization of North Korea, security assurances and the repatriation of fallen soldiers.

Diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations, said the United States continues to struggle to develop a shared understanding of what denuclearization means to North Korea.

Adding to the pressure on Pompeo to deliver tangible results is a leaked U.S. intelligence assessment casting doubt on North Korea’s willingness to relinquish its arsenal.

Nauert said Pompeo called Trump on Saturday morning to update him on the talks, a call that included White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton.

During the visit, Nauert said, the two sides agreed to set up working groups to deal with the “nitty-gritty stuff,” including verification of efforts to achieve denuclearization, but there was no indication that the North Korean working group would be empowered by Kim Jong Un, a necessary ingredient for any progress.

Following the Singapore summit, senior U.S. and North Korean diplomats struggled to maintain basic communication, leading to concerns that the talks would require Pompeo, who has many other responsibilities, to devote an unmanageable amount of time on the Korea issue.

The top U.S. diplomat said Saturday the two sides “laid out a path for further negotiation” among lower-ranking officials.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the ability for those more junior officials to work productively is critical.

“What concerns me at this stage is the secretary of state flying all the way from Washington to Pyongyang to try to engage in detailed working-level negotiations as an ongoing approach to negotiating denuclearization,” he said. “That’s unsustainable.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korean-negotiator-teases-and-flatters-as-pompeo-enters-second-day-of-talks/2018/07/07/d2a06324-8175-4589-bf08-def6e56aa962_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6f69f8ea0d33

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Mike Pompeo under pressure to secure nuclear progress in North Korea visit

July 5, 2018

Former White House advisor Sebastian Gorka says we should be seeing North Korea’s progress on denuclearization “Now.”

Secretary of state faces pressure to establish timeline for denuclearisation as well as duty to reassure regional allies

Weeks after Donald Trump declared the world a safer place following his historic summit with Kim Jong-un, Mike Pompeo is due to arrive in Pyongyang on Friday amid growing doubts over the regime’s willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens while appearing at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pompeo is due to travel to North Korea today. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

The secretary of state is expected to meet Kim in person in Pyongyang, according to the White House, though details of the agenda have not yet been released. Pompeo, on his third visit to the North Korean capital, is expected to press Kim on a recent report suggesting that far from beginning the process of denuclearisation, North Korea was making “rapid upgrades” to its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Unnamed US intelligence officials also concluded that North Korea does not intend to completely give up its nuclear stockpile.

Pompeo will also use his visit to consult and reassure Washington’s allies in the region, with meetings planned with Japanese and South Korean officials in Tokyo on Sunday. Japan has voiced support for the leaders’ Singapore declaration, but reacted cautiously to Trump’s decision to cancel a joint US-South Korea military exercise scheduled for August.

Pompeo must establish how far North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes have advanced before US officials can even attempt to draw up a potential timeline for America’s central demand – their complete, irreversible and verifiable dismantlement [CVID].

At present, the US has no reliable information on where all of North Korea’s production and testing facilities are located or the size of its ballistic inventory.

In a tweet this week, Trump said Washington and Pyongyang had been having “many good conversations” with North Korea over denuclearisation. “In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months, he said. “All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!”

Sceptics have pointed out that Kim no longer believes such tests are necessary now that the North has successful developed an intercontinental ballistic missile, and that dismantling North Korea’s missile and nuclear infrastructure represents a much tougher diplomatic challenge that could take years and cost billions of dollars, if it happens at all.

“Denuclearisation is no simple task,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, wrote in a commentary. “There is no precedent for a country that has openly tested nuclear weapons and developed a nuclear arsenal and infrastructure as substantial as the one in North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.”

Experts have played down Trump’s upbeat appraisal of his 12 June meeting with Kim in Singapore, where the leaders made a loose commitment to work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and agreed goodwill measures such as the possible return of the remains of US soldiers from the 1950-53 Korean war.

There are signs Pompeo might abandon all-or-nothing demands for CVID and replace them with incremental steps that South Korea has reportedly suggested would be more likely to secure Kim’s cooperation.

Washington has also come to accept that securing Chinese and Russian cooperation would be easier if it backed away from CVID in early talks with North Korea.

“The choice was either bend it or break it,” a US official told Reuters. Patrick Cronin of the Center for a New American Security said. “The US may be exploring the degree to which he will dismantle major programs within the coming months, and if dropping some language to do this is required, Washington seems willing to do that at this point.”

John Bolton  Credit: Getty Images

It remains to be seen if Pompeo will present Kim with a timeline for denuclearisation. National security adviser John Bolton’s claim that North Korea could complete that goal in the space of a year was met with widespread scepticism, even by administration officials.

Earlier this week, state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to give a timeframe for North Korea’s denuclearisation, saying “I know some individuals have given timelines; we’re not going to provide a timeline for that. A lot of work is left to be done, certainly. We go into this eyes wide open.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jul/05/mike-pompeo-north-kroea-visit-pressure-nuclear-progress

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North Korea satellite images show missile plant construction, analysts say

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/asia/north-korea-factory-intl/index.html

Pompeo to head to North Korea as doubts mount over denuclearization

July 3, 2018

Intelligence reports suggest Pyongyang may be boosting production of fuel for nuclear weapons

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens while appearing at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Wednesday on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pompeo is due to travel to North Korea later this week. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will leave for North Korea on Thursday, seeking agreement on a plan for the country’s denuclearization despite mounting doubts about Pyongyang’s willingness to abandon a weapons program that threatens the United States and its allies.

In announcing Pompeo’s travel plans on Monday, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said the United States was “continuing to make progress” in talks with North Korea. She declined to confirm or deny recent media reports of intelligence assessments saying North Korea has been expanding its weapons capabilities.

The State Department said Pompeo would head from Pyongyang to Tokyo on Saturday, where he would discuss North Korean denuclearization with Japanese and South Korean leaders.

It will be Pompeo’s first visit to North Korea since the June 12 summit in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, at which the North Korean leader agreed to “work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The joint summit statement, however, gave no details on how or when Pyongyang might give up its weapons.

U.S. officials have since been trying to flesh out details to produce an agreement that might live up to Trump’s enthusiastic portrayal of the outcome.

‘Great momentum’

The U.S. goal remained “the final, fully verified denuclearization of [North Korea], as agreed to by Chairman Kim in Singapore,” a State Department spokesperson said.

A U.S. delegation led by U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim met with North Korean counterparts at Panmunjom on the border between North and South Korea on Sunday to discuss next steps on the implementation of the summit declaration, the State Department said.

“We had good meetings yesterday and … the secretary of state will be there later this week to continue those discussions,” Sanders told a White House briefing.

Sanders endorsed comments made Sunday by White House national security adviser John Bolton, who said he believed the bulk of North Korea’s weapons programs could be dismantled within a year “if they have the strategic decision already made to do that.”

“There is great momentum right now for a positive change and we are moving together for further negotiations,” Sanders said.

However, some experts disputed Bolton’s optimistic time frame for decommissioning North Korea’s weapons, even if North Korea were willing to agree to such moves, amid multiple reports suggesting otherwise.

U.S. intelligence reports

An NBC News report on Friday quoted officials saying U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korea has increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months and may try to hide these while seeking concessions in talks with the United States.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that U.S. intelligence officials had concluded that North Korea did not intend to fully give up its nuclear arsenal and is considering ways to hide the number of weapons it has.

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands at the conclusion of their meetings at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island in Singapore on June 12. A leaked U.S. intelligence report and an analysis of satellite data suggest the North may be continuing its nuclear and missile activities. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, issued a report on Monday saying recent satellite imagery showed North Korea was completing a major expansion of a key manufacturing plant for solid-fuel missiles.

The images showed North Korea finishing construction on the exterior of the plant around the time Kim was meeting with Trump, the report said.

Last week, 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project affiliated with Washington’s Stimson Center think-tank, said satellite imagery showed the North had been upgrading its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Seeking a ‘road map’

Bolton refused to comment on intelligence matters but said the United States was going into nuclear negotiations aware of Pyongyang’s failure to live up to its past promises.

Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Centre for a New American Security, said U.S. and South Korea officials had told him Pompeo would be seeking to agree to “a specific denuclearization road map, or at least significant dismantlement steps that could fill in a road map.”

He said that if progress was made, the U.S. was open to expanded future engagement with North Korea, including a possible visit by Kim to the UN General Assembly in New York in September and a second summit with Trump.

North Korea has consistently refused in past rounds of failed negotiations to provide an inventory of its weapons program and U.S. intelligence remains uncertain of how many nuclear warheads North Korea has.

The Defence Intelligence Agency has a high-end estimate of about 50 nuclear warheads. But U.S. intelligence agencies believe Pyongyang is concealing an unknown number, including smaller tactical nuclear weapons, in caves and other underground facilities around the country.

Related:

See also:

North Korea satellite images show missile plant construction, analysts say

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/asia/north-korea-factory-intl/index.html

On North Korea and Foreign Policy: Saving Donald Trump From Himself

July 3, 2018

Critics of the Republican Party’s hawkish wing should, instead, thank their lucky stars that President Trump’s current national-security team hails from those hawks.

Contra Trump, North Korea’s nuclear threat hasn’t vanished. True, Kim Jong-un suspended nuke and missile testing, but he’s yet to end his nuclear program’s progress. Pyongyang continues to develop the Yongbyon plutonium plant while enriching uranium for making bombs.

But didn’t Trump, after meeting with Kim in Singapore last month, say there’s “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea?” He seemed to believe the young dictator’s denuclearization intentions.

He shouldn’t. More than a sit-down will be needed to defang a regime that believes a nuclear arsenal is the key to its survival. And the Kims won’t suddenly care about the welfare of their people or welcome the outside world into the Hermit Kingdom.

Yet, Trump’s clearly enamored with the idea that summits with America’s adversaries are key to resolving problems, so next on the itinerary, later this month, is Vladimir Putin.

And after that? Many in Washington talk about trying to organize a Trump summit with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. How about Hamas, then? Bashar al-Assad? The Taliban? Anyone else?

That’s where the hawks come in. Duty calls.

OPINION

By Benny Avni
New York Post

Trump is surrounded by an impressive array of them: National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, to name a few. Their job will increasingly be to clean up if and when the boss makes unwarranted pledges while attending his favorite diplomatic venue.

Specifically, Trump tends to too easily discard America’s global military commitments.

Referring to the Kim summit, the president told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Sunday that suspending “war games” — the annual joint naval exercises with allies like South Korea and Japan — will save us a lot of money.

Meanwhile, how to end the Syrian war will be high on the Putin summit’s agenda. Trump’s priority should be to prevent Iran from setting up a permanent presence there. Yet he wants US forces out of Syria, now that ISIS is mostly defeated. Keeping them there, see, costs us a lot of money.

But if cost is the only factor, should America keep patrolling the Pacific, defending freedom of navigation there from China’s aggression? That’s a very expensive endeavor (though arguably cheaper than not doing it).

Speaking of which, sooner or later Trump will summit with China’s president, Xi Jinping — who, by the way, is fast escalating a campaign to dominate his neighborhood.

China is forcing foreign airlines to refer to their routes to Taiwan as if it’s part of China. Most airlines have already complied, with the glaring exception of US carriers. Will Trump throw our Taipei allies under the bus?

Not if it’s up to Bolton, a long-time fierce Taiwan defender.

Bolton’s in a tough spot. As a Russia hawk, he’d frequently said that Putin, a former KGB spy, can’t be trusted. Bolton also said Russia clearly interfered in the 2016 election. Yet, without taking back any of it, the national-security adviser sat down with Putin last week. And Putin told Bolton there was no interference in the election.

That was an “interesting statement; I think it’s worth pursuing,” Bolton told CBS on Sunday.

He’s working for a boss who’s enamored with summitry and all that comes with it, so Bolton says it’d be useful for “just the two of them [Trump and Putin] to go over what’s on their mind about a whole range of issues.”

Bolton’s job, and that of Haley, Pompeo and others, will increasingly be to instill much-needed skepticism in the president’s mind. Trump has an unusual way of dealing with people and, with the right preparation, he can be quite effective. But when he gets out over his skis, as he often does, the president needs to ever so gently be shown the way back.

That task, of course, is delicate: Contradict the boss too much and you’re outta here. Fail to point out a bum steer, and you haven’t done your job.

So let Trump summit on, while making sure he doesn’t give the store away.

In fact, Pompeo announced Monday he’d soon travel back to Pyongyang, perhaps to prepare a September do-over summit, in New York, to ensure the first one wouldn’t end up being a total waste.

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https://nypost.com/2018/07/02/its-up-to-the-hawks-to-save-trump-from-himself/

Pompeo to head to North Korea as doubts mount

July 3, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will leave for North Korea on Thursday seeking agreement on a plan for the country’s denuclearization, despite mounting doubts about Pyongyang’s willingness to abandon a weapons program that threatens the United States and its allies.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, people sitting and suit
KCNA | Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in this May 9, 2018 photo released on May 10, 2018 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang.

In announcing Pompeo’s travel plans on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the United States was “continuing to make progress” in talks with North Korea. She declined to confirm or deny recent media reports of intelligence assessments saying North Korea has been expanding its weapons capabilities.

The State Department said Pompeo would head on Saturday from Pyongyang to Tokyo, where he would discuss North Korean denuclearization with Japanese and South Korean leaders.

It will be Pompeo’s first visit to North Korea since the June 12 summit in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, at which the North Korean leader agreed to “work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The joint summit statement, however, gave no details on how or when Pyongyang might give up its weapons. U.S. officials have since been trying to flesh out details to produce an agreement that might live up to Trump’s enthusiastic portrayal of the outcome.

The U.S. goal remained “the final, fully-verified denuclearization of (North Korea), as agreed to by Chairman Kim in Singapore,” a State Department spokeswoman said.

A U.S. delegation led by U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim met with North Korean counterparts at Panmunjom on the border between North and South Korea on Sunday to discuss next steps on the implementation of the summit declaration, the State Department said.

“We had good meetings yesterday and … the secretary of state will be there later this week to continue those discussions,” Sanders told a White House briefing.

Sanders endorsed comments made on Sunday by White House national security adviser John Bolton, who said he believed the bulk of North Korea’s weapons programs could be dismantled within a year “if they have the strategic decision already made to do that.”

“There is great momentum right now for a positive change and we are moving together for further negotiations,” Sanders said.

However, some experts disputed Bolton’s optimistic time frame for decommissioning North Korea’s weapons, even if North Korea were willing to agree to such moves, amid multiple reports suggesting otherwise.

INTELLIGENCE REPORTS

An NBC News report on Friday quoted U.S. officials saying U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korea has increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months and may try to hide these while seeking concessions in talks with the United States.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that U.S. intelligence officials had concluded that North Korea did not intend to fully give up its nuclear arsenal and is considering ways to hide the number of weapons it has.

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, issued a report on Monday saying recent satellite imagery showed North Korea was completing a major expansion of a key manufacturing plant for solid-fuel missiles.

The images showed North Korea finishing construction on the exterior of the plant around the time Kim was meeting with Trump, the report said.

Last week, 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project affiliated with Washington’s Stimson Center think tank, said satellite imagery showed the North had been upgrading its Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Bolton also refused to comment on intelligence matters, but said the United States was going into nuclear negotiations aware of Pyongyang’s failure to live up to its past promises.

Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, said U.S. and South Korea officials had told him Pompeo would be seeking to agree to “a specific denuclearization road map, or at least significant dismantlement steps that could fill in a roadmap.”

He said that if progress was made, the U.S. was open to expanded future engagement with North Korea, including a possible visit by Kim to the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September and a second summit with Trump.

North Korea has consistently refused in past rounds of failed negotiations to provide an inventory of its weapons program, and U.S. intelligence remains uncertain of how many nuclear warheads North Korea has.

The Defense Intelligence Agency has a high end estimate of about 50 nuclear warheads. But U.S. intelligence agencies believe Pyongyang is concealing an unknown number, including smaller tactical nuclear weapons, in caves and other underground facilities around the country.

US intel agency believes Kim won’t fully denuclearize

July 3, 2018

The Defense Intelligence Agency believes that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has no intention of engaging in a full denuclearization program, at least for now, according to an administration official familiar with the agency’s finding.

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A second official tells CNN the Trump administration plans to present the North Koreans with a detailed list of tasks they must undertake to begin a denuclearization process.
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The analysis is currently being circulated among other US intelligence agencies to see if they concur, the first official said. While the official would not detail the precise intelligence that has led to this conclusion, the agency utilizes satellite imagery, electronic intercepts and human intelligence gained from operatives.
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CNN
By Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen, CNN

Updated 6:25 PM ET, Mon July 2, 2018

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A North Korean missile production facility in the city of Hamhung is seen from a satellite image taken on June 29. (Planet Labs Inc./Reuters)

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A third official told CNN that the agency believes Kim may publicly agree to denuclearization to some extent, but that he will in reality hide weapons and infrastructure from the US.
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A photograph released by North Korean state media last year showing Kim inspecting an artist's rendition of the purported facility.

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The current view on Kim directly addresses his intentions rather than the overall capabilities of his weapons programs. If other elements of the US intelligence community agree with the Defense Intelligence Agency’s analysis, it could then become a so-called “finished intelligence product,” or report that would be briefed to the highest levels of the administration. It’s not known how much of the DIA finding the White House may be aware of.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will return to North Korea on July 5 to meet with Kim and his team, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters at Monday’s press briefing.
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A foreign intelligence source told CNN that the intelligence community’s analytic judgment has stayed the same for years, which is that they are skeptical of Kim’s willingness to denuclearize.
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This source said that they are unaware of any new projects the North Koreans may be working on, but reiterated that “they have given nothing up.”
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Former UN weapons inspector David Albright told CNN on Monday that his firm has new information about a secret North Korean facility producing highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium. The information, Albright says, comes from Western intelligence sources.
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“At Kangsong they’re using gas centrifuges,” Albright told CNN’s Brian Todd. Pointing to a photo, Albright identified the rotor assembly. “They’re producing weapons-grade uranium for nuclear weapons,” Albright said. “And the site may have up to 6,000 or more of these centrifuges.”
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The Pentagon declined to address intelligence reports on North Korea’s nuclear capability when asked on Monday, saying only that the US military remains postured to “deal with any and all threats on the peninsula” with the goal of allowing “diplomats the space and the time to hopefully make progress coming out of the summit.”
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Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning also said that Trump’s decision to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea “will not impact the capabilities and readiness of our combined forces on the peninsula in order to deal with North Korea.”
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The Defense Department has long been skeptical of North Korea moving quickly to denuclearize. Recent commercial satellite imagery has shown some continuing activity at various nuclear fuel and missile sites.
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The Washington Post earlier reported on US intelligence officials’ doubt that North Korea intends to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile.
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Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” in a signed agreement after his Singapore summit with President Donald Trump. In the statement, Kim also said that his country would commit “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
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But Trump has repeatedly mischaracterized the nature of his deal with Kim, insisting last month that the North Korean dictator had agreed to begin “total denuclearization” right away.
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While Kim has consistently said he’s willing to denuclearize, long-time North Korea watchers worry that Pyongyang and Washington have very different definitions of the term denuclearization.
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“Kim has never offered to disarm. Not once,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director for the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “He’s arming, not disarming.”
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White House national security adviser John Bolton would not comment on the Washington Post report Sunday, but did say on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal could be dismantled in a year if Pyongyang cooperates, adding that the program would require “full disclosure of all (of North Korea’s) chemical and biological, nuclear programs, ballistic missile sites.”
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“We have developed a program. I am sure that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be discussing this with the North Koreans in the near future about really how to dismantle all of their (weapons of mass destruction])and ballistic missile programs in a year,” Bolton said. “If they have the strategic decision already made to do that and they are cooperative, we can move very quickly. And it is to North Korea’s advantage to dismantle very quickly. Then the elimination of sanctions, aid by South Korea and Japan and others can all begin to flower.”
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Bolton disclosed that the plan has not been put into action yet.
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“It has not. Physically, we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programs within a year,” Bolton said.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
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Pompeo told CNN last week he would not put a timeline on negotiations with North Korea, but said the Trump administration will regularly assess the regime’s seriousness about abandoning its nuclear program as the US moves toward normalizing relations with Pyongyang.
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He also played it coy when asked by lawmakers last week about specific conditions the administration has set for North Korea to achieve denuclearization and secure economic concessions.
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“I’m not prepared to talk about the details of the discussions that are taking place,” he said, “I think it would be inappropriate and, frankly, counterproductive to achieving the end state that we’re hoping to achieve.”
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A team of US officials led by envoy Sung Kim met with North Korean officials Sunday at Panmunjom, the border village between North and South Korea in the demilitarized zone, in the first face-to-face conversations between the two countries since the summit last month according senior State Department officials.
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The foreign intelligence source who spoke to CNN said it would be worrisome if the administration does not have a timeline by September.
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Bolton also said Sunday on CBS that during the US-North Korea summit in Singapore, Kim was “very emphatic several times” about turning over the arsenal, which was a change from previous regimes.
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“Now, we’ll let their actions speak for themselves,” Bolton added.
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“There’s nobody involved in this discussion with North Korea in the administration who is overburdened by naïveté. We’ve seen how the North Koreans have behaved before,” Bolton said.
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“The President’s been very clear,” Bolton said. “He is not going to make mistakes of prior administrations. We are going to pursue this, and we will see what happens.”
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However, one former member of the US National Security Council told CNN that the leak of this intelligence assessment could indicate there is internal frustration over the administration’s apparent trust in Kim’s sincerity moving forward.
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US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un shake hands following a signing ceremony during their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)
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“The (intelligence community) doesn’t assess that Kim Jong Un is acting in good faith … they’re probably fed up with the fact that (Trump) and Pompeo keep publicly touting their trust in one of the most definitively untrustworthy regimes the US has ever negotiated with,” the source said.
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But the decision to leak this information also has a risk factor, according to the same source, who said the information could diminish the likelihood Kim will cooperate “if he thinks that, no matter what he does, the US has already prejudged him to be untrustworthy.”

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/politics/north-korea-denuclearization/index.html

Related:

See also:

North Korea satellite images show missile plant construction, analysts say

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/02/asia/north-korea-factory-intl/index.html

Trump’s big North Korea deal is already turning out to be a sham

July 2, 2018

Do they give out Nobel Peace Prizes for praising and appeasing brutal dictators who threaten nuclear war — without getting anything in return?

President Trump claimed he would use his world-class dealmaking skills to convince North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, to surrender his nuclear weapons. Instead, Trump got played. Kim, who pledged in wishy-washy language to “denuclearize,” is now accelerating his nuclear program. The nuclear threat from North Korea — and the risk of a preemptive war launched by Trump — are both growing. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading to North Korea this week hoping to contain the fallout.

Twenty days ago, Trump shook hands with Kim in Singapore. At the summit, Trump played the role of apologist in chief for Kim’s human rights abuses while praising Kim as a “very talented” person because he can “run it tough.” In North Korea, “running it tough” means executing dissidents, torturing political prisoners in gulags and threatening to wipe a few U.S. cities off the map with a nuclear blast.

OPINION
By July 2 at 2:11 PM
The Washington Post


A North Korean missile production facility in the city of Hamhung is seen from a satellite image taken on June 29. (Planet Labs Inc./Reuters)

The White House and Trump’s surrogates insisted that the unsavory handshake would be vindicated. They claimed we were witnessing a history-making deal from a history-making dealmaker. Former presidents, guided by experts who understood every intricacy of North Korean politics, had failed. All it would take from Trump, they claimed, was a one-on-one handshake, a photo-op and some touting of North Korea’s prospects for developing beachfront resorts. Hit by that sophisticated diplomatic approach, Kim would trade missiles for condos. Then, the president’s cheerleaders argued, Trump could accept his well-deserved invitation to Oslo.

It was risible then. Now it is being revealed as fatally naive.

Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported that North Korea is rapidly completing a major expansion of a key manufacturing facility for missiles — missiles that can strike American allies, American military bases in those allied countries and, yes, the mainland United States.

North Korea watchers also used recent satellite images to conclude that “improvements to the infrastructure at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center are continuing at a rapid pace.”

NBC News and The Post also reported this weekend that “U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months.”

To anyone with even a basic understanding of North Korea, this comes as no surprise. “The [North Koreans’] insistence on vague language in the Singapore declaration was almost certainly so that they could continue accelerated development of nuclear facilities,” Robert E. Kelly, professor of political science at Pusan National University, told me on Monday. “It is a mark of how poorly President Trump prepared for Singapore that he did not anticipate this and demand sharper language and a timeline in exchange for the valuable concession of a presidential summit.”

It is becoming alarmingly clear that Trump’s “win” was a major loss for international security. But it is also a major loss for those who believe in using diplomacy rather than war to neutralize the North Korean nuclear threat.

Perhaps that’s by design. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, has long argued (before his current stint in the White House) that the United States should preemptively attack North Korea. In February, he wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed, providing the legal justification for preemptive strikes to topple Kim’s regime and take out their nuclear program — a strategy that most analysts agree could lead to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of deaths.

In March, Bolton argued on Fox News that a Trump-Kim summit would be a positive development because it would “foreshorten the amount of time that we’re going to waste on negotiations.” In Bolton’s view, meeting with Kim would expose the North Korean regime as untrustworthy scoundrels who could not be swayed by diplomatic olive branches. Once president-to-chairman diplomacy inevitably failed, it would pave the way for Bolton’s favored choice: deadly force.

Trump hired Bolton as his new national security adviser exactly one month after that interview.

Bolton may soon be proved right that the time on negotiations was “wasted” — not because diplomacy is doomed to fail, but because the amateur and childishly naive approach that Trump took was always doomed to fail.

As Kim marches closer to his dynasty’s long-standing dream of having an arsenal of nuclear weapons that can reliably hit U.S. cities within an hour, Trump looks like a gullible fool. And while he decides how to respond to being duped, Trump will have a mustachioed warmonger whispering in his ear, a man who has already told the world that he wants diplomacy to fail because it will lead to war.

There is still the possibility that real progress can be made if Trump stays out of the spotlight and lets the real diplomatic work get done behind the scenes. But if you believe Trump’s tweet that “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” or that there is “no longer” the risk of war with North Korea,  then you, I’m sorry to say, are also a gullible fool.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2018/07/02/trumps-big-north-korea-deal-is-already-turning-out-to-be-a-sham/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.70df99fa15fe

Read more:

Jennifer Rubin: North Korea is taking advantage of Trump

George F. Will: Trump can’t ask North Korea and Iran to become vegetarians

As Bolton Says North Korea Could Disarm in a Year, Reality Lags Promises

July 2, 2018

President Trump’s national security adviser said on Sunday that North Korea could dismantle all of its nuclear weapons, threatening missiles and biological weapons “in a year,” a far more aggressive schedule than the one Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined for Congress recently, reflecting a strain inside the administration over how to match promises with realism.

The statements by John R. Bolton, the national security adviser and historically a deep skeptic that North Korea will ever fully disarm, came as Mr. Pompeo prepares to make his third trip to North Korea late this week.

By  David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
The New York Times

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, with President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, during a meeting in Singapore last month. Mr. Pompeo will visit North Korea this week to try to work out more details of a disarmament plan. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. Pompeo will arrive in Pyongyang with a proposed schedule for disarmament that would begin with a declaration by North Korea of all its weapons, production facilities and missiles. The declaration will be the first real test of the North’s candor, amid increasing concern that it may be trying to conceal parts of its nuclear program. But Mr. Bolton, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” said Sunday that, nearly three weeks after the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump met in Singapore, no such declaration has arrived.

Advisers to Mr. Pompeo, both outside the government and inside the C.I.A., which he used to direct, have cautioned him that North Korea will not give up its arsenal of 20 to 60 weapons until the last stages of any disarmament plan — if it gives them up at all. Many of the plans they have given him call for the North to halt production of nuclear fuel — at a moment that there are signs of increased production — but do not insist on dismantling weapons until Mr. Kim gains confidence that economic benefits are beginning to flow and that the United States and its allies will not seek to overthrow him.

Read the rest:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/01/us/politics/north-korea-bolton-pompeo-timetable.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news