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Kim Jong Un makes first public reference to Trump summit



Kim Jong Un has spoken publicly for the first time about his proposed upcoming talks with Donald Trump.

The North Korean leader gave a “profound analysis and appraisal” of the possible outcome of the historic summit to top officials of the country’s ruling party, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Mr Kim discussed the “prospect of the DPRK-US dialogue and set forth the strategic and tactical issues”, the agency added.

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He also updated officials “on the development of the recent situation on the Korean peninsula”, KCNA said, referring to his talks with the South’s President Moon Jae-in, scheduled for later this month.

While the report did not specifically mention the planned summit or Mr Trump by name, it suggests the North Korean leader is serious about the talks, which the US President said on Monday could be held in late May or June.

Kim Jong Un addressed top officials of North Korea's ruling party
Kim Jong Un addressed top officials of North Korea’s ruling party

The move continues the remarkable diplomatic offensive Kim has launched this year, including making his first overseas visit as leader – to China as well as sending his sister to the Winter Olympics in South Korea and using that as a platform to set up talks with Seoul.

:: Kim told to stop smoking by South Korean official

But by far the most surprising development has been his offer, made through South Korean officials, to meet with the US President, given the insults the pair have traded since Mr Trump entered the White House.

The reports make no mention of what will be on the table during the Kim-Trump summit, but officials in Seoul have suggested the North Korean leader would be prepared to discuss de-commissioning his nuclear arsenal, one of Washington’s longest-held demands.

Body Language: Kim Jong Un

Many doubt whether the North Korean leader is really prepared to do that, pointing out that Pyongyang is equally insistent that US forces be removed from South Korea, a move deemed unpalatable to Seoul.

Confirming he planned to meet Kim in “May or early June”, Mr Trump said: “I think there will be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully there will be a deal on denuking.”

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Israel-Gaza conflict: Media building in Gaza collapses after Israeli airstrike as Palestinian rockets target Tel Aviv area | World News



A tower block that is the base for international media in Gaza has been hit by an Israeli bombardment, causing it to collapse.

The strike – an hour after people were told to evacuate the building – came as fighting raged.

Earlier, 10 Palestinians from an extended family, including eight children, were killed by an Israeli strike in Gaza City, and one Israeli was killed in a rocket attack near Tel Aviv.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) posted footage of “the scene in the neighbourhood in Ramat Gan after a rocket from Gaza struck the area”, saying they “will not let this terror go unanswered”.

A building damaged by a rocket fired from Gaza, in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv District
A building damaged by a rocket fired from Gaza, in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv District

In other developments:

• The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called for strict respect for international law and appealed to all sides to take steps to de-escalate, as Malaysia and Indonesia called on the UN Security Council to intervene and stop Israel’s strikes on Gaza

• Egypt pushed for both sides to pause military activities from midnight on Friday, with Cairo leaning on Hamas, while the US and others tried to reach an agreement with Israel – but an Egyptian source said Israel turned down an Egyptian proposal for a one-year truce that Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers had accepted

• Amid the fighting, Palestinians marked the start of the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, an annual day of Palestinian grief marking the displacement of hundreds of thousands of refugees at the time of Israel’s creation in 1948

• The UN Security Council is also set to meet on Sunday, after US diplomat Hady Amr arrived in the region on Friday as part of Washington’s efforts to de-escalate the conflict

• The number killed rose overnight: 139 people have now died in Gaza, including 39 children and 22 women, according to Palestinian health officials, and nine – including two children and a soldier – on the Israeli side

• United Arab Emirates carriers Etihad Airways and flydubai cancelled flights to Tel Aviv, joining American and European airlines

• Iran’s foreign minister cancelled a visit to Austria after the Austrian government flew the Israeli flag in Vienna in a show of solidarity

• In London, hundreds of people have gathered to march in solidarity with Palestinians, with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn among those expected to speak

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Hamas rocket hits Israeli city

The al Jalaa Tower, which houses foreign media – Al Jazeera and the Associated Press news agency, among others – was hit twice by an Israeli bombardment at about 1.15pm.

There were no reports of fatalities.

AP’s correspondent in Gaza, Fares Akram, said earlier that the building was the only place in the city he felt safe, as it was known to the Israelis as a media base.

Overnight on Saturday, the IDF said incoming rocket fire from Gaza had forced Israeli civilians to head to shelters to protect themselves for the fifth morning in a row, with the cities of Beersheba and Ashdod among those struck.

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Destruction in Gaza after Israeli air strike

Israeli military forces said they carried out strikes on a Hamas military intelligence facility and a number of rocket launching sites in northern Gaza, an enclave controlled by the Islamist Palestinian group.

An Israeli air strike killed eight children and two women from an extended family – the highest number of fatalities in a single hit since the Israel-Gaza conflict reignited earlier this week.

The 10 died when an airstrike hit a three storey house in a refugee camp in Gaza City, AP said, and a surviving widower told reporters that his wife and five children, only one of whom is known to have survived, had gone there to celebrate the Eid al Fitr holiday with relatives.

Soon after, Hamas said it fired multiple rockets at southern Israel in response.

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Violence spreads across wider Israel

A total of 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli bombardment overnight, according to Palestinian medics on Saturday.

Palestinians militants fired about 200 rockets at Israeli cities, and Israel’s military said its aircraft struck apartments that belonged to Hamas militants as well as rocket launch sites.

Ms Bachelet warned the firing of large numbers of indiscriminate rockets by Palestinian armed groups into densely populated Israeli areas amounts to war crimes – and there were concerns some attacks by the Israeli Defence Forces that have targeted “civilian objects” do not meet the requirements to be considered as military objectives under humanitarian law.

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Thousands protest against violence in Gaza

She said: “Over the past 10 days, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel has deteriorated at an alarming rate.

“Rather than seeking to calm tensions, inflammatory rhetoric from leaders on all sides appears to be seeking to excite tensions rather than to calm them.

“I urge both sides to ensure strict respect for their obligations under international law. Israel, as the occupying power, also has a duty to ensure unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance to the Gaza strip. Those found to be responsible for violations must be held to account.”

The Nabka, which has fallen on Saturday, is one of the most sombre dates of protest in the Palestinian calendar. It marks the day after the creation of the state of Israel on 14 May 1948, a move that led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing or being expelled from the country.

This year, Nakba Day is expected to be particularly tense, coming as Israelis and Palestinians engage in their worst clashes in years and with street unrest rising in mixed Jewish-Arab neighbourhoods across Israel stirring fears of a descent into civil war.

Anti-Israeli protests also erupted in the occupied West Bank on Friday, prompting Israeli forces to open fire, killing 11 people.

In addition, pro-Palestinian demonstrations took place at Israel’s borders with neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon, while three rockets were reportedly fired towards Israel from Syria.

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Israeli airstrike hits Hamas security compound

The Israel-Palestinian hostilities are now in their sixth day and diplomatic efforts to stop the bloodshed are intensifying.

The US embassy in Jerusalem said Hady Amr’s aim after he arrived in Israel was “to reinforce the need to work towards a sustainable calm”.

As well as Egypt, Qatar, Jordan and the United Nations are also important players.

“The talks have taken a real and serious path on Friday,” a Palestinian official was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

“The mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations are stepping up their contacts with all sides in a bid to restore calm, but a deal hasn’t yet been reached.”

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One city, two neighbours, very different views

Diplomats have already held a number of closed-door sessions since the bombardments by both sides began on Monday.

The violence was sparked by tensions in Jerusalem over efforts by Jewish settlers to evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes in an east Jerusalem neighbourhood, and by clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at a revered mosque in the Old City.

On Friday night, online video showed young Jewish nationalists firing pistols as they traded volleys of stones with Palestinians in the disputed Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

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CCTV captures moment of rocket strike in Israel

Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued into early Saturday, followed by a salvo of Hamas rockets towards Israel.

The exchanges came after the heaviest barrage of Israeli tank and artillery fire, combined with airstrikes, overnight into Friday that pummelled the Palestinian enclave.

The Israeli military said that they had been going after a network of tunnels used by Hamas. But the onslaught wreaked destruction in some towns, killed a family of six in their house and sent thousands fleeing their homes.

Houda Ouda said she and her extended family ran frantically into their home in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, seeking safety as the earth shook in the darkness.

“We even did not dare to look from the window to know what is being hit,” she said.

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Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli forces

The Israeli Defence Forces has said Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a fellow Palestinian militant group, have fired more than 2,000 rockets from Gaza towards Israel since the start of the hostilities – an unprecedented volume of strikes.

More than 400 rockets are said to have fallen short into Gaza, while many more were blasted out of the sky by Israeli air defence systems. However, some did impact.

Across central and southern Israel, from small towns bordering Gaza to metropolitan Tel Aviv and southern Beersheba, Israelis have adjusted to sirens wailing, radio and TV broadcast interruptions and the beeps on their mobile phones of red alerts that send them rushing for cover.

For its part, the Israeli military said they have hit some 1,000 targets in Gaza, including rocket launch sites, individual commanders and the tunnel network.

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Roger Federer says athletes need to know if Tokyo Olympics are going ahead | World News



Tennis ace Roger Federer has called on organisers of the Tokyo Olympics to tell athletes if the event is still going ahead, adding he is still in two minds as to whether to compete.

The event was delayed by a year, and is now slated to go ahead between 23 July and 8 August, but uncertainty remains around the games, amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

Japan is battling a surge in infections, with a state of emergency around the capital Tokyo being extended until at least the end of May.

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Anti-Olympics protest in Tokyo

“It’s difficult,” Federer told Switzerland‘s Leman Bleu television.

“We’re not hearing much. That makes me think the games will happen, even if I’ve heard that lots of people in Tokyo are against the games.

“Honestly I don’t know what to think. I would love to play in the Olympics, win a medal for Switzerland, that would make me so proud.

“But if that doesn’t happen due to the situation, I would be the first to understand.

“But I think what the athletes need is a decision: is it happening or isn’t it?

“At the moment, we have the impression that it will. We know it’s a fluid situation. And also you can also decide as an athlete if you want to go. If you feel there’s a lot of resistance, maybe it’s better not to go. I don’t know.”

A Tokyo Olympic torch relay participant runs in the Shimane Prefecture town of Tsuwano, western Japan, on May 15, 2021. (Kyodo via AP Images) ==Kyodo
The torch relay is already under way. Pic: Kyodo via AP

A petition calling for the games to be cancelled has been signed by more than 350,000 people, and some towns have dropped plans to host Olympics athletes during the event, throwing fresh doubt on the games.

Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori, Japan’s top ranked tennis players, have also shared concerns about the games going ahead, saying that holding the Olympics while the pandemic is still ongoing still needs to be carefully discussed.

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British troops battle sandstorm to seize Islamic State weapons cache, MoD says | UK News



British troops have battled a sandstorm and temperatures higher than 50C (122F) to seize a cache of weapons from Islamic State terrorists in Mali, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Around 100 soldiers from the Light Dragoons and Royal Anglian Regiment, found AK47 rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, camouflage clothing, radios, mobile phones and hundreds of litres of fuel.

The MoD said the mission was carried out with the support of a specialist Royal Engineers search team, in incredibly challenging conditions.

Some of the troops' find
The MoD said around 100 soldiers from the Light Dragoons and Royal Anglian Regiment were involved in the operation
The MoD said around 100 soldiers from the Light Dragoons and Royal Anglian Regiment were involved in the operation

At times the raiding party’s visibility was reduced to 30 metres by a sandstorm, while the soldiers, carrying up to 45kg of equipment, endured temperatures of over 50C as they headed for a Malian village near the border of Niger in early May.

It was the first “cordon and search” operation, acting on intelligence proactively gathered, carried out by UN forces in Mali.

Their targets, suspected fighters of the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS) fled by swimming across the River Niger, before they moved in.

The insurgents had been intimidating locals, extorting money and assaulting people who refused to comply with their demands, the MoD said.

That meant UK forces were able to respond to protect them under the UN’s peacekeeping mandate.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “Removing the weapons and disrupting the terrorist operation will make a real difference to the local community and importantly the intelligence collected will help develop our understanding and help to prevent the threat from armed groups in the future.”

AK47 rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, camouflage clothing, radios, mobile phones and hundreds of litres of fuel were found
AK47 rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, camouflage clothing, radios, mobile phones and hundreds of litres of fuel were found

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Robinson, commanding officer of the Light Dragoons, said: “Using intelligence gathered during our patrols, we focussed on where terrorist groups were intimidating local people and were then able to find and seize the weapons and supplies, disrupting their harmful influence on local communities and gathering more information that will help interrupt further extremist activity.”

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Three hundred British troops were deployed to the war-torn west African country in December, to work alongside 16,000 peacekeepers from 56 different countries.

Their role is to provide specialist long-range reconnaissance for the United Nations mission, gathering intelligence in areas of the country hard to reach.

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