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Partial Government Shutdown: Trump, Lawmakers Fail to Break Impasse

The government has been partially shut down since December 22 after negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached a deadlock over the President's demand that the budget bill include more than $5 billion for construction of the wall

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Video: Frustrations Run High in Third Week of Shutdown. VOA

The US President and Republican as well as Democratic congressional leaders have failed to make tangible progress on how to end the partial government shutdown due to Donald Trump demands for billions of dollars for a border wall.

During the contentious meeting in the Situation Room on Wednesday, the 12 day of the shutdown, Trump made his case for a wall on the southwestern border and rejected Democrats’ proposals for reopening the government while the two sides ironed out their differences, the New York Times reported.

Trump warned before the meeting that he will keep the government partially shut down for as long as necessary, that is, apparently, till Democrats give in to his previous demands for financing his much-touted border wall with Mexico.

At the White House meeting, Democratic leaders asked Trump to immediately reopen the portions of the government that were currently shut down, leaving the discussion about border security — the reason why Trump ostensibly called the meeting in the first place — for later.

“I don’t think any particular progress was made today,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters after the meeting. “But we talked about all aspects of it and it was a civil discussion and we’re hopeful that somehow in the coming days and weeks we’ll be able to reach an agreement.”

The likely incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said upon leaving the meeting that the Democratic lawmakers’ aim was “to end the partial government shutdown tomorrow”.

“Tomorrow we will bring to the floor legislation that will open up government. It will be based on actions taken by the Republican Senate — led by Senator Mitch McConnell,” Pelosi said on Wednesday, making reference to a Senate bill that passed but did not include wall funding.

Pelosi said that approving the Democrats’ bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8 would give lawmakers and Trump 30 additional days to negotiate regarding allocating funds for US border security without the need to keep the government partially shut down and some 800,000 of the 2.1 million federal workers idled.

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“We asked the president to support the bills that we support to open up government,” added Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, noting that he had asked Trump to give “one good reason” for continuing the shutdown if lawmakers were discussing border security with the expectation of finding a mutually agreeable solution.

“He could not give a good answer,” Schumer said.

The government has been partially shut down since December 22 after negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached a deadlock over the President’s demand that the budget bill include more than $5 billion for construction of the wall. (IANS)

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Things Are Going Very Well With North Korea: U.S. President Donald Trump

The White House announced after talks between Trump and Kim on Friday that the U.S. president would hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

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President Donald Trump shakes hands with Kim Yong Chol, former North Korean military intelligence chief, after their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 1, 2018. The two also met for talks in Washington (VOA)

U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that he had an “incredible” meeting with North Korean nuclear envoy Kim Yong Chol and the two sides had made “a lot of progress” on denuclearization.

The White House announced after talks between Trump and Kim on Friday that the U.S. president would hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in late February, but would maintain economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

“That was an incredible meeting,” Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said of the talks. “We’ve agreed to meet sometime, probably the end of February. We’ve picked a country but we’ll be announcing it in the future. Kim Jong Un is looking very forward to it and so am I.

“We have made a lot of progress as far as denuclearization is concerned and we are talking about a lot of different things. Things are going very well with North Korea.”

Trump and the White House have given no details of the talks, and despite his upbeat comments there has been no indication of any narrowing of differences over U.S. demands that North Korea abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States and Pyongyang’s demands for a lifting of punishing sanctions.

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U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands after signing documents during a summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018. (VOA)

June summit

A summit in June in Singapore — the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader — produced a vague commitment by Kim Jong Un to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but he has yet to take what Washington sees as concrete steps in that direction.

Critics of U.S. efforts said the first summit did little more than boost Kim’s international stature.

Trump did not elaborate on the country chosen to host the summit, but Vietnam has been considered a leading candidate.

Kim Yong Chol, regarded as a member of Kim Jong Un’s inner circle, also had talks on Friday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the U.S. special representative on North Korea, Stephen Biegun.

The State Department said the two sides had “a productive first meeting at the working level” and Biegun would travel to Sweden at the weekend to attend an international conference.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Trump To Address The Nation Regarding The Shutdown

The conference is also being attended by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui. Washington has been keen to set up talks between Biegun and Choe but North Korea has resisted, apparently wanting to keep exchanges high-level.

Asked if the two would meet in Stockholm, a State Department spokeswoman said: “We have no meetings to announce.” (VOA)