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NUKEWARS
Trump defends Asia trip, vows 'maximum pressure' on N.Korea
By Andrew BEATTY
Washington (AFP) Nov 16, 2017


Trump, the water bottle, and Marco Rubio's revenge
Washington (AFP) Nov 15, 2017 - Revenge is a dish best served cold. And wet.

US President Donald Trump awkwardly reached for a water bottle during a televised speech Wednesday -- in a scene that surely handed sweet satisfaction to Marco Rubio, the Republican senator and Trump's one-time rival for the White House.

Trump -- and many others -- had relentlessly mocked Rubio for taking an indecorous swig four years earlier, as he delivered a speech rebutting Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

Now fate has come full circle.

Several minutes into a White House speech summarizing his just-completed trip to Asia, Trump bent down to reach for water on a lower shelf of his podium.

Realizing no bottle was there, he popped up to announce: "They don't have water. That's OK."

When an aide signalled that there was a bottle to Trump's right, the president leaned over, stared resolutely forward as he twisted off the cap, lifted the bottle to his lips with two hands, and took a sip.

Then the internet exploded.

Posts flooded Twitter to recall how Trump repeatedly ridiculed Rubio back in 2013 over his watery gaffe, and Wednesday's footage quickly made it on to cable news.

"Next time Marco Rubio should drink his water from a glass as opposed to a bottle -- would have much less negative impact," Trump tweeted in February 2013.

Again on the campaign trail in February last year, Trump imitated Rubio on stage, and called him a "choke artist" over his water woes.

"Help me, I need water. Help!" Trump mocked, as he held up a bottle of water, took a swig, then casually threw it over his shoulder.

Rubio, who unsuccessfully challenged Trump for their party's presidential nomination, wasted no time turning the tables.

"Similar, but needs work on his form," Rubio quipped in a tweet. "Has to be done in one single motion & eyes should never leave the camera. But not bad for his 1st time."

US President Donald Trump hit back at critics of his recent Asia trip and vowed a global campaign of "maximum pressure" on North Korea Wednesday, warning Pyongyang will not subject the world to "nuclear blackmail."

Defending an almost two week trip to Asia that was long on pomp but -- critics say -- short on achievements, Trump said he had successfully galvanized opposition to North Korean proliferation.

"I made clear that we will not allow this twisted dictatorship to hold the world hostage to nuclear blackmail," Trump said in a televised statement a day after returning from the marathon trip.

During a 25 minute address, Trump repeatedly reached for a bottle of water and appeared worn by the long journey that took in Hawaii, South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Always keen to garner praise and lift up examples of others showing him respect, Trump said the red carpet rolled out for him in Asia showed that "America is back."

"Everywhere we went, our foreign hosts greeted the American delegation and myself included with incredible warmth and hospitality and most importantly respect," he said.

Trump and his supporters are fighting a rearguard action against suggestions that the trip was a failure.

They are pointing to a series of Asian investments in the United States and the release of three US basketball players on Chinese shoplifting charges, after presidential intervention, as evidence it was a success.

Adding to that, Trump himself said that he had won a commitment from Chinese leader Xi Jinping to use Beijing's economic leverage to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

It was not clear if that went beyond Chinese implementation of existing UN Security Council resolutions against Pyongyang.

Trump also suggested that Xi -- who will send a special envoy to Pyongyang later this week -- had ditched a proposal to freeze US military maneuvers in exchange for a freeze in North Korean proliferation.

"President Xi recognizes that a nuclear North Korea is a grave threat to China," Trump said. "And we agreed that we would not accept a so-called 'freeze for freeze' agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past."

There was no immediate confirmation of what would be a significant shift in Chinese policy from Beijing's embassy in Washington.

- Welcome home -

Democratic Senator Edward Markey summed up the sentiment of many in his camp in saying that Trump failed to "make meaningful progress" on "critical economic and security issues during his trip to East Asia."

"Rather than building on the messages in Japan and South Korea on the importance of trilateral unity in the face of the North Korean threat, President Trump tweeted about how hard he has tried to be North Korea's friend and called Kim Jong Un 'short and fat,'" he said.

Aside the furor over Trump tweets, his visit also saw 11 Asia-Pacific allies announce they would press ahead with a free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

That was seen as a diplomatic slap in the face and evidence that the world was looking beyond America's mercurial and nationalistic current leadership.

"The US is out of the game," said Nate Olson of the Stimson Center. "While the US posture alternates between defensive and scorched-earth, other countries are actively fighting to reshape the trade landscape in their favor."

"The progress toward a successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership is just the latest example."

NUKEWARS
N. Korea soldier shot six times as he defected to South
Seoul (AFP) Nov 14, 2017
A North Korean soldier involved in an extremely rare and dramatic defection to the South was shot six times by his own side as he drove to the heavily guarded border and ran across under a hail of bullets. The US-led United Nations Command (UNC), which monitors the Panmunjom border truce village where the defection occurred Monday, said the soldier had driven close to the heavily-guarded, mi ... read more

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