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Trump could face thorny issues on South Korea visit

By Associated Press
Published: 00:59 EST, 6 November 2017 | Updated: 01:45 EST, 6 November 2017
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By Associated Press

Published: 00:59 EST, 6 November 2017 | Updated: 01:45 EST, 6 November 2017

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. Here's a look at some of them.

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NORTH KOREA

FILE - In this March 25, 2015, file photo, U.S. Army soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and South Korean soldiers take their position during a demonstration of the combined arms live-fire exercise as a part of the annual joint military exercise Foal Eagle between South Korea and the United States at the Rodriquez Multi-Purpose Range Complex in Pocheon, north of Seoul, South Korea. President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship.  (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

FILE – In this March 25, 2015, file photo, U.S. Army soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and South Korean soldiers take their position during a demonstration of the combined arms live-fire exercise as a part of the annual joint military exercise Foal Eagle between South Korea and the United States at the Rodriquez Multi-Purpose Range Complex in Pocheon, north of Seoul, South Korea. President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

Both Trump and South Korea's liberal President Moon Jae-in agree that it's time to ramp up sanctions and pressure on North Korea, which has ignored international condemnation as it moves forward with its nuclear and missile tests.

But Moon, a former human rights lawyer, still favors dialogue as a way to defuse the nuclear tension and vehemently opposes a potential military clash, which experts believe would cause enormous casualties in South Korea. This contrasts with Trump, who has threatened the North with "fire and fury" and exchanged warlike rhetoric with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The world will be watching what kind of language Trump will use in his comments on North Korea. A hint at a military option or crude insults directed at Kim – like the term "Little Rocket Man" he previously used to deride the young North Korean dictator – is certain to enrage North Korea, which could react with weapons tests and threats of war.

Increasing animosity would be a burden for Moon.

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TRADE

Renegotiating South Korea's bilateral free trade agreement with the U.S., dubbed KORUS, is likely be high on the agenda during the Trump-Moon summit. Trump has criticized the deal as a source of the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea, an argument officials there dismiss.

Before Trump's presidency, many in South Korea and the United States regarded the deal as a key pillar of their alliance. But Trump has made scrapping trade deals a hallmark of his presidency. Earlier this year, reports that Trump was considering triggering a withdrawal from the deal caused uproar not just in South Korea but also in the United States.

The two countries eventually started talks this summer on renegotiating the deal, which went into effect five years ago. Many South Koreans are watching if Trump will make off-the-cuff remarks on the trade deal during news conferences or on Twitter.

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U.S. TROOPS

Trump wants South Korea to pay more for the U.S. military presence on its soil, which is chiefly aimed at deterring potential aggression from North Korea.

During election campaigning, Trump said South Korea and Japan must make more contributions for together hosting 80,000 U.S. troops or he might withdraw those soldiers. Security jitters subsequently flared among many in South Korea and Japan.

Since taking office in January, Trump hasn't publicly threatened to pull out the troops but he harkened back to an election campaign request for greater burden-sharing with South Korea during his first summit talks with Moon in late June.

South Korea currently pays more than 900 billion won ($800 million) annually and negotiations with the United States are to start in the coming months to try to determine a new amount for South Korea to contribute.

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U.S. MISSILE DEFENSE

South Korea's recent agreement with China to try to end disputes over an advanced U.S. missile defense system deployed in South Korea could be an issue.

While announcing the deal last week, Beijing, which views the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system as a security threat, said it noted that Seoul stated it won't do several things: deploying an additional THAAD battery, helping develop security cooperation with Japan and the U.S. into a trilateral military alliance and joining a global U.S. missile defense network. South Korea's foreign minister made similar remarks during a parliament committee meeting earlier last week.

Critics say the South Korean moves, dubbed by local media as its "Three No" policies, could undermine the operational capability of the allied South Korea-U.S. forces and Trump's push to bolter three-way cooperation with Seoul and Tokyo to put more pressure on Pyongyang.

Other issues at stake are South Korea's hope to regain the wartime operational control of its troops, currently placed at the hands of the chief of the 28,000 U.S. troops in the South, and Seoul's possible purchase of high-tech U.S. weapons systems.

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Associated Press writer Youkyung Lee contributed to this report.

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This story has been corrected to show that Trump's first summit with South Korea's president took place in June, not July.

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2017, file photo, U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, are seen at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea. President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. (Kim Jun-beom/Yonhap via AP, File)FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2017, file photo, U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, are seen at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea. President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. (Kim Jun-beom/Yonhap via AP, File)

FILE – In this Sept. 7, 2017, file photo, U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, are seen at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea. President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. (Kim Jun-beom/Yonhap via AP, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2008, file photo, South Korean farmers shout slogans during an anti-FTA rally near the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. The Korean read FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2008, file photo, South Korean farmers shout slogans during an anti-FTA rally near the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. The Korean read

FILE – In this Nov. 25, 2008, file photo, South Korean farmers shout slogans during an anti-FTA rally near the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea. The Korean read " Oppose the FTA between the South Korean and U.S." President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man, File)

FILE - In this June 30, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 30, 2017. President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)FILE - In this June 30, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 30, 2017. President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

FILE – In this June 30, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 30, 2017. President Donald Trump visits South Korea on Tuesday on the second leg of his first official Asian tour. While Trump will be looking to use his trip to strengthen Washington's alliance with Seoul and reaffirm their joint push to maximize pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program, he will also be faced with several thorny issues weighing on the relationship. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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