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Pompeo in Pyongyang; Tokyo-Seoul-Beijing join hands on N.Korea

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Pompeo

Pyongyang, May 9: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday arrived here in North Korea, amid growing speculation over the possible release of three US detainees, to prepare for the historic talks between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump.

Pompeo’s arrival coincided with the first trilateral summit between Japan, China and South Korea, who endorsed the agreement signed by Pyongyang and Seoul to achieve complete denuclearisation and long-term peace on the Korean Peninsula, Efe news reported.

Ahead of the surprise visit, the US Secretary of State said he hoped North Korea would “do the right thing” and release three Americans imprisoned in the country.

“We’ve been asking for the release of these detainees for 17 months,” the BBC quoted Pompeo as saying.

A South Korean presidential official told news agency Yonhap that Pyongyang was expected to release the US citizens –Kim Dong-chul, 64, Kim Sang-duk, 58, and Kim Hak-song, about 60, — as a “goodwill gesture” ahead of the summit.

A State Department official travelling with Pompeo said the US would also be “listening for signs from North Korea that things have substantially changed” with the nation’s nuclear ambitions.

Trump on Tuesday referred to Pompeo’s latest visit while announcing the US’ withdrawal from an Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran.

This is Pompeo’s second trip to Pyongyang after meeting with Kim in April.
Pompeo had said that a “good relationship” was formed at that meeting, which marked the highest level of US contact with North Korea since 2000.

At a trilateral summit in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to join forces and focus on an open dialogue with Pyongyang to make it abandon its nuclear arsenal.

In a joint press meet after the summit, Abe stressed the importance of the inter-Korean agreement for peace and stability in the region and said he shares a common stand with Beijing and Seoul that the successive UN resolutions on North Korea should be complied with.

Kim was earlier quoted as saying that he hoped “phased and synchronised” measures would be taken to realise denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

Li said the dialogue in the peninsula was heading in a good direction and added that all parties should take advantage of this moment to resolve the conflict.

Moon welcomed the strong support from Li and Abe for the “Panmunjom Declaration” signed between Seoul and Pyongyang on April 27, and said he would do everything possible to implement the pact.

This was the first trilateral summit since 2012 and it comes amid a whirlwind of diplomatic activity to finalize preparations for the upcoming Kim-Trump meet.

IANS

India

India Offers $100 Million Line of Credit To Sri Lanka For Solar Projects

India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay called on Minister of Power Dullas Alahapperuma and reiterated India’s commitment towards a strong and multi-faceted bilateral partnership including in the power sector, the Indian mission said in a statement.

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solar plant at Jamia

Colombo: India has offered a Line of Credit worth $ 100 million to Sri Lanka for three solar projects in the country, according to an official statement.

India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay called on Minister of Power Dullas Alahapperuma and reiterated India’s commitment towards a strong and multi-faceted bilateral partnership including in the power sector, the Indian mission said in a statement.

They discussed various issues of mutual interest including ways to expedite progress on bilateral power projects currently under discussion between the two sides.

The Indian envoy also handed over a copy of a letter conveying an offer from India to Sri Lanka for a Line of Credit (LoC) worth $100 million for three solar projects announced during the International Solar Alliance Founding Conference held in March, 2018 in New Delhi, the statement said.

The LoC will cover financing for rooftop solar systems meant for 20,000 households and 1,000 government buildings all across the island. The combined generation capacity of these rooftop systems will be about 60 MW, it said.

The LoC will also provide financing for a floating solar power plant. The implementation of the LoC will begin with the conclusion of an LoC agreement between the two sides, it said.

The Indian High Commissioner conveyed that the $100 million LoC is in line with the national priorities of India and Sri Lanka to enhance the share of solar and renewable energy in overall energy generation, the statement added.

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Politics

A vote to confirm Barrett “is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act”: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

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Chuck Schumer
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said President Trump’s decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has put “Americans’ healthcare in the crosshairs.”

“The American people should make no mistake — a vote by any Senator for Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a vote to strike down the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Schumer wrote in a statement.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, unabated by this Administration, healthcare was already the number one issue on the ballot in November. President Trump has promised to nominate Supreme Court Justices who will “terminate” our health care law and decimate the health care system for American Indians and Alaska Natives. In Judge Barrett, President Trump has found the deciding vote.”

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments just after the November election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans have indicated they may vote to confirm Barrett before Election Day — meaning she could be seated on the bench for that case.

In an early 2017 law review essay, reviewing a book related to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, Barrett criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ rationale that saved the law in 2012.

“Chief Justice Roberts pushed the Affordable Care Act beyond its plausible meaning to save the statute,” Barrett wrote. “He construed the penalty imposed on those without health insurance as a tax, which permitted him to sustain the statute as a valid exercise of the taxing power.”

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Biden urges US Senate not to confirm Supreme Court nominee before election

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Vice President Joe Biden

Joe Biden released a statement reacting to Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and focused on health care and protecting the Affordable Care Act.

“Today, President Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the successor to Justice Ginsburg’s seat. She has a written track record of disagreeing with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. She critiqued Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion upholding the law in 2012,” Biden said.

He added that the Senate should not act on the vacancy until after the American people select their next president.

Senate Republicans have outlined a possible confirmation hearing for Barrett that could have her confirmed before Election Day.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments just after the election in a case about the Affordable Care Act. The case is brought by a coalition of Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration, who argue the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, and the entire law must fall.

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