North Korea on Thursday urged South Korea to participate in extensive talks aimed at dramatically enhancing bilateral ties, which have improved slightly in recent days with an agreement to resume joint-economic activities at a business complex on its side of their shared border, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
“There is a need to expand cooperation,” Pyongyang’s propaganda outlet, the Rodong Sinmun, said in an editorial that warned against allowing specific points of contention to stand in the way of better inter-Korean ties.
In the past, Seoul has demanded as a precondition of any broader bilateral negotiations that Pyongyang take concrete steps to show it is sincere about denuclearization and apologize for two 2010 attacks that killed scores of South Koreans.
Meanwhile, Japan’s senior atomic negotiator traveled to Seoul on Thursday for meetings with high-ranking South Korean Foreign Ministry officials that were anticipated to include discussion of the nuclear impasse with North Korea, Kyodo News reported.
The two East Asian democracies gradually have deepening their military cooperation — something that the United States has strongly supported. Earlier this month, South Korean and Japanese fighter planes for the first time flew together in a joint military exercise — the U.S.-led Red Flag Alaska drill, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
“We have allies that are now on the same sheet of music able to cooperate, integrate and face a common foe (North Korea),” U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Pagano, who led planning for the drill, said in an interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.