US President Donald Trump says possible talks between North Korea and South Korea held mixed potential, while sanctions are beginning to take a toll on Pyongyang amid tensions over its nuclear and missile programs.
"Sanctions and 'other' pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea," Mr Trump wrote in a post on Twitter early this morning.
"Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!" Mr Trump added in reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Sanctions and “other” pressures are beginning to have a big impact on North Korea. Soldiers are dangerously fleeing to South Korea. Rocket man now wants to talk to South Korea for first time. Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not - we will see!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
US CALLS ON IRAN TO UNBLOCK SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
The Trump administration stepped up its support for protesters in Iran on Tuesday, calling on the government to stop blocking Instagram and other social media sites while encouraging Iranians to use special software to circumvent controls.
Following several days of tweets by Mr Trump supporting the protesters and declaring that it's "time for change," the State Department took it further, arguing that the United States has an "obligation not to stand by."
Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein, in charge of public diplomacy, said the US wants Iran's government to "open these sites" including the photo-sharing platform Instagram and the messaging app Telegram.
"They are legitimate avenues for communication," Goldstein said. "People in Iran should be able to access those sites." Iranians seeking to evade the blocks can use virtual private networks, Goldstein said. Known as VPNs, the services create encrypted data "tunnels" between computers and are used in many countries to access overseas websites blocked by the local government.
Despite the blocks, the United States is working to maintain communication with Iranians in the Farsi language, including through official accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. The State Department also was to distribute videos of top US officials
encouraging the protesters through those and other sites.
The US outreach came as the Trump administration, in a departure from President Barack Obama's approach, was mounting a full-throated show of support for Iranians protesting against the government over concerns about corruption, mismanagement and economic woes.
The administration was also considering additional sanctions against Iran over human rights concerns related to the protests, said a U.S. official, who wasn't authorized to discuss the plans publicly and demanded anonymity. And at the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said she was calling for the Security Council to meet urgently to discuss the protests.
Iran's government has blamed the US, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom for fomenting the protests, calling them the work of foreign "enemies of Iran."
TRUMP SLAMS 'DEEP STATE' JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
Mr Trump also took to Twitter to accuse the US Justice Department of being part of the "deep state" and suggesting it "must finally act" against a top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former FBI director James Comey.
The "deep state" refers to an alleged shadowy network of powerful entrenched interests that some Republicans argue are trying to undermine Mr Trump.
Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
"Crooked Hillary Clinton's top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others," Mr Trump tweeted early this morning.
Mr Trump appeared to be referring to a report in the conservative Daily Caller that Ms Abedin sent government passwords to her Yahoo email before it was hacked.
The report noted that 500 million Yahoo accounts had been hacked in 2014.
Among those indicted by the Department of Justice in March 2017 for the hack was Igor Suschin, a former Russian intelligence agent.
Mr Trump's reference to sailors probably referred to the Navy sailor convicted of taking photos of classified areas inside a submarine.
Last Friday, the State Department released parts of 2800 emails that belonged to Ms Abedin but were recovered by the FBI on the laptop of her husband, disgraced politician Anthony Weiner, during an investigation into his sexting with a female high school student.
The discovery of the emails, some marked as classified, prompted former FBI Director James Comey to announce in October 2016, just weeks before the presidential election, that he would reopen the probe into Mrs Clinton's use of a private email server.
He reversed himself two days before the vote, saying nothing of significance had been found in her emails.
Mr Trump fired Mr Comey, who had been heading the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling in the election, in May.
TRUMP HITS OUT AT DEMOCRATS OVER DACA
After Mr Trump said last week, there won't be protection for young immigrants brought into the US illegally under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) unless he gets funding for a border wall, the president took to Twitter again to say that Democrats aren't doing anything to help policy.
"Democrats are doing nothing for DACA - just interested in politics. DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start 'falling in love' with Republicans and their President! We are about RESULTS," Mr Trump tweeted.
Democrats are doing nothing for DACA - just interested in politics. DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start “falling in love” with Republicans and their President! We are about RESULTS.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Last Friday, Mr Trump said: "The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc."
He added: "We must protect our Country at all cost!
The battle over immigration has been delayed until next year. Democrats want protections for the young immigrants, who are referred to as "Dreamers." But while there is significant bipartisan sympathy for these immigrants, GOP demands for Mr Trump's border wall and for immigration agents have proved difficult to resolve.
TRUMP TWEET SEES PAKISTAN SUMMON US ENVOY
It comes as Pakistan civilian and military chiefs rejected "incomprehensible" US comments after Mr Trump tweeted angrily about Pakistani "lies and deceit", with Islamabad summoning the US ambassador.
David Hale was summoned by the Pakistani foreign office to explain Mr Trump's tweet, media said. The ministry could not be reached for comment but the US Embassy in Islamabad confirmed on Tuesday that a meeting had taken place.
Mr Trump said the United States had been rewarded with "nothing but lies and deceit" for "foolishly" giving Pakistan more than $US33 billion ($A46 billion) in aid in the last 15 years.
"They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!" he tweeted.
His words drew praise from Pakistan's old foe, India, and neighbouring Afghanistan, but long-time ally China defended Pakistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a National Security Committee meeting, and spoke of "deep disappointment" at a slew of critical comments coming from US officials over the past few months.
TRUMP TAKES CREDIT FOR ZERO US PLANE DEATHS IN 2017
In praising his own efforts on aviation safety, Mr Trump said there were no aviation accident-related deaths in the US last year.
"Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!" he tweeted.
Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
But Mr Trump was probably referring only to statistics for turbojets, as there were two deadly US accidents in ASN data last year. Both involved planes with jet propulsion engines.
The first, in Arkansas on May 1, killed one person. Four days later, in West Virginia, two people were killed in another accident.
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