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Japan frets about Trump’s looming talks with North Korea

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“The Japanese people should be concerned about slight differences of priorities between the United States and Japan,” said Mieko Nakabayashi, a professor in U.S.-Japan relations at Waseda University in Tokyo.

Japan, she said, was “watching very carefully” to see whether Trump would pursue the same objective of Kim giving up his nuclear program and weapons, or whether he might be attracted to a more flexible deal based on U.S. domestic political considerations. While Kim signed a declaration Friday agreeing to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, the details and timeline remain unclear.

Abe has been one of the most vocal supporters of Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against North Korea — a stance that strengthened last year when two of the regime’s test missiles passed over northern Japan — but he has had to scramble to respond to recent developments.

It is hard to shake the perception that Japan, a close U.S. ally that hosts 54,000 American military personnel, has been left on the sidelines since Kim started a conspicuous effort to repair relations with South Korea and the U.S.

After traveling to China to meet with President Xi Jinping late last month, Kim held historic talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday. The Moon meeting was expected to lay the groundwork for the Trump summit.

Image: Trump and Abe
President Donald Trump greets Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 17.Mandel Ngan / AFP – Getty Images

The diplomatic efforts seem a far cry from the rhetorical barrages of 2017, when Trump warned North Korea it faced unprecedented “fire and fury” and total destruction if it threatened the U.S. or its allies.

American fears were raised when North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile which Kim claimed was capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

In his New Year’s Day address, Kim claimed that “a nuclear button is always on my desk” and the “entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons.” However, analysts say that based on the current evidence it’s hard to prove or debunk North Korea’s claim that it could hit targets such as New York or Washington.

Japan, however, has long been within range of North Korean weapons. The Nodong ballistic missile, also known as Rodong, has a maximum range of about 800 miles and could reach Japan in about 10 minutes, according to Narushige Michishita, a professor at Japan’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.

“Japan has been facing the threat for some time … although the nuclear detonation capability of North Korea has improved,” Michishita said. “What has changed in the past couple of years is that they have increased their ability to attack or target the United States.”



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Biden brings closing message to historically red Georgia

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Joe Biden on Tuesday made his first visit of the 2020 election cycle to the battleground state of Georgia, delivering a closing argument centered around his criticism of President Donald Trump and his goal of seeking to “heal our nation.”

Speaking in Warm Springs, Georgia, Biden took aim at Trump’s responses to the dual public health and economic crises caused by Covid-19, as well as the protests for racial justice seen across the nation this year.

“These are all historic, painful crises. The insidious virus. Economic anguish. Systemic discrimination. Any one of them could have rocked a nation,” Biden said.

When it came to addressing systemic racism, he referred to the protests as a “cry for justice from communities that have long had the knee of injustice on their neck” and vowed “a new wave of justice in America.”

Biden’s events marked his first visit of the 2020 election cycle to Georgia, a state no Democratic presidential candidate has carried since 1992 but where Democrats have been making inroads.

Just a week ahead of Election Day, polls in the key Southern battleground show a tight race. The latest Real Clear Politics polling average in the state shows Biden trailing Trump by just 0.4 percentage points, while they have each led three of the last six polls in the state tracked by NBC News.

To win the state, Biden will need to carry large numbers of the state’s Black voters and large numbers of white suburbanites and white women, political strategists said.

Early voting in the state has already reached historic levels, with ballots cast there thus far already accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total ballots cast in the state in 2016.

In his address, Biden attempted to draw stark contrasts with Trump on how he’d govern if elected, saying he will be “a president who’s in it not for himself, but for others. A president who doesn’t divide us — but unites us. A president who appeals not to the worst in us — but to the best.”

“A president who cares less about his TV ratings — and more about the American people. A president who looks not to settle scores — but to find solutions. A president guided not by wishful thinking — but by science, reason and fact,” he added.

He also drew heavily upon the symbolism of the location of his speech, making frequent reference to the fact that Franklin D. Roosevelt had a retreat in Warm Springs where he sought treatments for polio.

“Warm Springs is a good place to talk about hope and healing. This is where Franklin Roosevelt came to use the therapeutic waters to rebuild himself,” Biden noted.

Later Tuesday, Biden will hold a drive-in rally in Atlanta. His running mate, Kamala Harris, visited the state Friday.



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Nicola Sturgeon faces BACKLASH over Covid Levels system – new regions risk strict lockdown

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NICOLA Sturgeon has faced a backlash from MSPs after unveiling a new tier system of restrictions which are set to come into force next week.

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Judge rejects Justice Department bid to defend Trump in defamation case

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A federal judge in New York has ruled that a libel suit filed against President Trump by E. Jean Carroll cannot be dismissed and rejected the Department of Justice’s bid to defend him in the case. NBC’s Pete Williams has details.

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