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US-North Korea working-level n-talks in 2-3 weeks: Seoul

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Trump-Kim meeting at DMZ

Seoul, Sep 24 The US and North Korea are expected to resume working-level nuclear talks within the next two or three weeks, South Korea’s intelligence agency said on Tuesday.

If the two sides can reach an agreement at the upcoming talks, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could hold their third summit this year, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said.

The NIS held a closed-door briefing to the chiefs of political parties sitting on the parliamentary intelligence committee, reports Yonhap News Agency reported.

Trump and Kim agreed to hold working-level nuclear talks during their surprise meeting at the inter-Korean border village in June. The meeting came after their second summit in Vietnam in February fell through without a deal.

Since then, progress for working-level negotiations has stalled. But as Trump signaled a push for a “new method” in dialogue with Pyongyang, Kim Myong-gil, the North’s new nuclear envoy, welcomed it last week.

During their summit in New York on Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump agreed to expedite the peace process on the Korean Peninsula on the basis of last year’s Singapore summit deal between Washington and Pyongyang.

At the meeting, Trump hinted of the possibility of meeting Kim by the end of the year, although he underlined that he was in no hurry.

“Kim Myong-gil will be the chief at the working-level talks and the North’s vice foreign minister Choe Son-hui will spearhead the whole negotiation process,” the NIS said on Tuesday.

The NIS added that, depending on the outcome of nuclear negotiations with the US, the North’s leader could visit South Korea in November to attend a special summit between the South and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Yonhap News Agency reported.

Middle East

‘US troops withdrawing from Syria to western Iraq’

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US troops from Syria

Washington, Oct 21 : US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said roughly 1,000 US troops withdrawing from the northeastern Syria will be repositioned into western Iraq, according to a transcript released by the Pentagon.

“The US withdrawal continues apace from northeast Syria. Again, we’re talking weeks not days. We want to be very deliberate and very safe as we go about it,” Esper told reporters on Saturday en route to Afghanistan, according to the transcript released on Sunday.

According to Xinhua news agency, based on the “current game plan,” those forces, which are about 1,000, will be repositioned into western Iraq to help defend the war-torn country and perform a counter-the Islamic State (IS) mission, the Pentagon chief added.

The United States has been withdrawing around 1,000 US troops from northern Syria amid Turkey’s military operations targeting the Kurdish forces in several parts of northeast Syria launched about two weeks ago.

US President Donald Trump said last week that the US troops leaving Syria will remain in the Middle East region to “monitor the situation,” while a small number of US forces will remain at At Tanf Garrison in southern Syria to counter the remnants of the IS.

The United States and Turkey reached an agreement on Thursday over a five-day truce in northern Syria.

According to the pact, Washington will help facilitate an “orderly withdrawal” of Kurdish-led troops from what Ankara has termed as a “safe zone” on the Syrian-Turkish border.

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Russia and the United States must normalise diplomatic missions: Russian FM

Lavrov expressed regrets the US Congress stood in the way of US President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring relations with Russia back on track.

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Sergei Lavrov

Moscow, Oct 21 : Russia and the United States must normalize the work of each other’s diplomatic missions, and Moscow is ready to do that on the basis of the “zero option” plan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“When we understood that sanctions are not only not frozen or lifted, but are also expanding and deepening, we also responded and insisted that the number of American diplomats in Russia and Russian diplomats in the US be equal,” Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiya-1 TV channel, according to the transcript of the interview published by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

In March 2018, Russia announced the decision to expel 60 US diplomats and close the US consulate general in St. Petersburg, in retaliation to Washington’s move to expel 60 Russian diplomats and intelligence officials in the United States.

Lavrov expressed regrets the US Congress stood in the way of US President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring relations with Russia back on track.

“I repeat, we are ready at any time to resolve these issues on the basis of the ‘zero option’ and return to the normal functioning of our diplomatic institutions,” Lavrov said.

He said that he had already discussed the issue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, who understands that “sometime we must return to this. The sooner, the better.”

The “zero option” refers to an American proposal for the withdrawal of all Soviet and United States intermediate-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

On August 2, Russia and the United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after accusing each other of violating the landmark arms control deal.

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Middle East

Iran’s nuclear industry ‘indigenised’: Official

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Iran Nuclear Power Plant

Tehran, Oct 21 : Iran’s nuclear industry has been entirely indigenised, a senior official at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said.

“One hundred percent of Iran’s nuclear industry activities has been indigenized and, today, we are self-sufficient in designing and manufacturing various kinds of centrifuges,” Ali Asghar Zare’an, special assistant to the AEOI head, was quoted as saying by Press TV on Sunday.

According to Xinhua news agency, Zare’an said, “Once others were not willing to give us a single centrifuge or see a centrifuge spinning, but now, thousands of centrifuges are running at (Iranian) Natanz and Fordow (nuclear) facilities.”

Iran is now producing the raw material of yellowcake domestically and this move has greatly increased “the bargaining power at the international level,” he added.

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