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Posted by On 8:36 AM

Kim Jong Un 'extremely enraged,' berates North Korean officials for unfinished projects

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North Kor ea leader Kim Jong Un launched -- not a missile -- but an unusual public attack on his own officials during inspections of several ongoing projects in the Hermit Kingdom, visits he said that left him “appalled” and “speechless” due to a lack of progress and attention to detail.

Kim’s statements, released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday, were made during his “field guidance” visits at construction sites in the country. The despot’s disappointment was reportedly visible during a visit to the Orangchon Power Station construction site in the northeast. After officials briefed him about the project and its delays, Kim became "ext remely enraged," KCNA reported.

In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, gestures during his visit to a shipyard in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. State media say that Kim has harshly reprimanded local officials over a delayed construction project. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cann   ot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

State media said Kim Jong Un has harshly reprimanded local officials over a delayed construction project. (KCNA)

Kim’s late grandfather, North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, had initially given the project the green light in the early 1980s. But on Tuesday, it was only 70 percent complete.

“He reprimanded the leading officials of the Cabinet for leaving the project to the province only and not paying attention to it,” KCNA said in its statement.

In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, visits a shipyard in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. State media say that Kim has harshly reprimanded local officials over a delayed construction project. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this imag   e is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, speaks during a visit to a machine factory in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. (KCNA)

Kim ordered the plant to be completed by next October.

His attacks on officials continued during a visit to Onpho holiday camp, which Kim’s father and late grandfather had been to in the past. KCNA said the North Korean leader was disgusted by the hot spring bathtubs that appeared “dirty, gloomy and unsanitary for their poor management.” Kim reportedly called the tubs “worse than fish tanks.”

In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, inspects the construction site of a hydroelectric power plant in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. State media say that Kim has harshly reprimanded local officials over a delayed construction project. The slogan in the background reads: &qu   ot;March toward the final victory!” Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The slogan in the background reads: "March toward the final victory!” (KCNA)

At a visit to Chongjin bag factory, Kim blamed the North Hamgyong Provincial Party Committee for not implementing the official policy of build ing a new plant.

“It offered shabby rooms of the building at the Chongjin Regenerated Fibre Factory for a bag production base and thus caused great anxiety to Kim Jong Un who came to the factory to learn about the bag production in localities,” KCNA said.

In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gestures    during a visit to the construction site of a hotel in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. State media say that Kim has harshly reprimanded local officials over a delayed construction project. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim Jong Un often visits construction sites to provide "field guidance." (KCNA)

KIM JONG UN'S BIZARRE NORTH KOREA PROPAGANDA PHOTOS

Since taking power in late 2011, Kim, 34, has promised to boost living standards. Experts believe Kim’s latest attacks on his officials are designed to show he’s focused on the country’s economy. The despot is often pictured surrounded by officials while they scrawl notes during the "field guidance."

“Kim seems to believe his country will be able to keep the balance between openness and internal reform only after improving its economic competitiveness. Thus he mentioned both severe punishment and encouragement during his field guidance trips," Yang Moo-jin, a professor of the University of North Korean Studies, told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

In this undated photo provided on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, speaks during a visit to a machine factory in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea. State media say that Kim has harshly reprimanded local officials over a delayed construction project. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source r   eads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Kim is often pictured surrounded by officials scrawling notes on a notepad. (KCNA)

Tough U.N. sanctions imposed after the regime’s nuclear and missile tests last year, however, have seemed to take a toll on the country's economy. Kim met with President Trump in Singapore in June and agreed to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” In exchange, Kim asked for security guarantees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

Source: Google News North Korea | Netizen 24 North Korea

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Posted by On 4:55 AM

North Korea and Zimbabwe: A friendship explained

The Norea Korea-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwean army demonstrates karate in May 1984 at Rufaro Statium in Harare, Zimbabwe.The Norea Korea-trained Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwean army demonstrates karate in May 1984 at Rufaro Statium in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s historic election on July 30, its first without former leader Robert Mugabe on the ticket in nearly four decades, is a major olive branch aimed at the West.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power last November, is attempting to bring the southern African pariah state back into the international community and repair its crumbling economy, destroyed by years of mismanagement.

But, during Zimbabwe’s international isolation it found an unusual friend â€" North Korea.

How did this come about?

Zimbabwe and North Korea’s relationship dates back to the Cold War, during which Pyongyang backed several liberation movements in Africa.

During the 1970s, North Korea trained an armed faction of Zimbabwe’s now-ruling ZANU-PF party as it fought to oust white minority rule in the country, which was then the British colony of Rhodesia.

The Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwean army, trained by North Korea, practice karate at Rufaro Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, in May 1984.The Fifth Brigade of the Zimbabwean army, trained by North Korea, practice karate at Rufaro Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe, in May 1984.

When former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was elected into power in 1980 following the country’s independence, military training from North Korea became more closely linked to its leadership. Mugabe agreed with then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung that Pyongyang would train a wing of Zimbabwe’s army, known as the Fifth Brigade, which would be under the direct control of Mugabe himself as he sought to consolidate his pow er in the country.

“The Fifth Bridge had a reputation for ferocity,” Daragh Neville, an Africa-North Korea expert formerly of think tank Chatham House, told CNBC. It is considered responsible for a 1983 massacre in Matabeleland, a western region of Zimbabwe, in which up to 20,000 people were killed in violence along tribal lines.

“What happened in Matabeleland remains an extremely sensitive topic in Zimbabwe,” Neville said.

A supporter of Zimbabwean President Emmerson M   nangagwa at a rally in Bulawayo on June 23, 2018.A supporter of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a rally in Bulawayo on June 23, 2018.

For approximately a decade beginning in the late 1990s, a particularly murky period in Zimbabwe’s history during which the country suffered from hyperinflation, riots and strikes, its relationship with North Korea was bolstered.

William Attwell, practice leader for Sub-Saharan Africa at emerging markets consultancy Frontier Strategy Group, described the pair to CNBC as “ideological bedfellows,” finding solidarity in international isolation. “Mugabe drew inspiration from Pyongyang’s ideology of self-reliance in his tirades against the West,” Attwell said.

Trading ill icit commodities

Contraband commodities moving between Zimbabwe and North Korea form a key part of their bilateral business connections.

“Since Western sanctions left few options to procure armaments from abroad, North Korea became a crucial source of supplies for Zimbabwe’s military, which is among the region’s best trained and equipped,” Attwell said.

Meanwhile, North Korean firm Mansudae Overseas Projects, a construction company specializing in memorials and monuments, has completed projects in Zimbabwe as well as elsewhere in Africa. Mansudae’s work includes National Heroes Acre, a burial ground just outside the Zimbabwean capital Harare.

There have been incidences of smugglers attempting to import Zimbabwean ivory and rhino horn into North Korea. Also, Zimbabwe is reported to have supplied uranium to North Korea, which is used as part of the regime’s nuclear program.

“Zimbabwe is being watched closely by the UN over potentially contravening the sanctions regime on North Korea,” Neville said.

A ‘demonstration of defiance against the West’

Given its military support of ZANU-PF, North Korea has made a significant contribution to Mugabe’s 37-year leadership of Zimbabwe.

But, “the North Korea connection has done relatively little to help alleviate Zimbabwe’s longstanding economic woes,” Attwell said. Likewise, North Korea’s own economy has been decimated by sanctions imposed by the international community, regardless of Zimbabwean trade.

Meet Zimbabwe's new leader, 'The Crocodile'

Zimbabwe’s “cosying up to North Korea has historically been a demonstration of defiance against the West rather than the practical manifestation of substantive diplomatic and business ties between the two countries,” said Charles Laurie, a specialist in southern Africa and head of politics at consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

Africa help s keep ‘North Korea’s head above water’

Both Zimbabwe and North Korea are in the process of opening up to the international community. While Zimbabwe sent a military delegation to North Korea as recently as February, according to a local news report, both countries’ attempts to build bridges elsewhere could jeopardize their historic relationship.

Supporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) march for electoral reforms in the streets of the capital Harare on July 11, 2018.S upporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) march for electoral reforms in the streets of the capital Harare on July 11, 2018.

Current Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s deputy who took power in November after the former leader was ousted in a coup, has made Zimbabwe’s internationalization a cornerstone of his leadership.

“Mnangagwa will steer a path of reconciliation rather than antagonisation by keeping North Korea at arm’s distance,” Laurie said. As the president pushes for election on July 30, “it is hard to see any value whatsoever in Mnangagwa promoting a relationship with outcast North Korea, which at this stage is little more than a divisive relic from the early Mugabe era.”

While Mnangagwa has been campaign ing for foreign investment in Zimbabwe, North Korea’s finances could falter should its relationship with Zimbabwe wane. “Its overall trade with Africa is approximately $100 million per year â€" it seems very little, but this is a not insignificant sum for the cash-strapped government. It is foreign trade and military links that are keeping North Korea’s head above water,” Neville said.

Source: Google News North Korea | Netizen 24 North Korea

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Posted by On 3:08 AM

US expecting war dead remains from North Korea within 2 weeks, official says


United Nations honor guards in December 1993 carry the remains of a soldier who died during the Korean War. (CHOO YOUN-KONG/AFP/Getty Images) July 17 at 4:44 AM Email the author

The U.S. military is expecting to repatriate from North Korea the remains of as many as 55 soldiers who were killed during the Korean War, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The repatriations would likely take place next week or the week after, the official said. It would be the first time that the remains believed to be U.S. troops have been directly returned by North Korean officials in 13 years.

The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the plan and spoke on the condition of anonymity, cau tioned that the timing and the number of remains could still change. Citing practical difficulties, the official said that 55 was a “ballpark” figure and that it would require further testing by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to confirm the number.

Stars and Stripes newspaper had first reported on Tuesday that an American delegation had agreed to travel to North Korea and retrieve the remains, citing a U.S. official. The U.S. team would then fly them out with the remains on July 27, either to Osan Air Base in South Korea or to Hawaii.

July 27 is the 65th anniversary of the signing of an armistice that ended the Korean War, lending the date symbolic importance in U.S.-North Korea relations.

U.S. military data suggests that 7,700 troops still remain unaccounted for from the 1950-53 conflict. The United States and North Korea have repatriated hundreds of remains since the 1990s, but the process has been fraught with difficulties and mistrust. The transfe rs of remains were halted during the administration of President George W. Bush in 2005, following diplomatic tension between the two nations.

After their June 12 summit in Singapore, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had agreed to restart the repatriation process and both signed a statement promising the “immediate repatriation of those already identified.”

On June 21, Trump told a crowd of supporters that 200 Americans’ remains “have been sent back.” Military officials later denied this, but said that prearrangements for the transfer had been made â€" including the storage of 100 caskets at the DMZ.

Last Thursday, a U.S. military delegation expecting to discuss the repatriation process had been left waiting at the Korean peninsula’s demilitarized zone when their North Korean counterparts did not arrive for a meeting. The State Department later said the North Korean side had been in contact at midday to cancel that meeting Thursday and had suggested rescheduling to Sunday.

U.S. military officials met with their North Korean counterparts on Sunday to continue discussions about repatriation. The U.S.-side was led by Maj. Gen. Michael A. Minihan, chief of staff for the U.N. Command. The meeting was the first between a U.S. and North Korean general since March 2009.

In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the talks were “productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments.” The meeting was followed up by another working level meeting on Monday to work out the next steps.

The United States and North Korea have also agreed to restart efforts to search for the remains of other Americans in the northern part of the peninsula, according to the State Department.

Min Joo Kim contributed to this report.

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Posted by On 11:47 PM

Official: North Korea may return up to 55 sets of US war dead remains next week

Official: North Korea may return up to 55 sets of US war dead remains next week

SEOUL, South Korea â€" North Korea has agreed to hand over as many as 55 sets of remains believed to be from American troops killed in the 1950-53 war, and to allow the United States to fly them out of the country next week, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The preliminary details emerged after U.S. and North Korean officials held working-level talks Monday in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone.

The Americans planned to send transit cases via truck to the DMZ, where they would be given to the North Koreans to use for the remains. “They’re going to use our cases for the remains and give them back to us,” the official told Stars and Stripes.

A U.S. delegation was expected to retrieve the remains in North Korea and fly them out on July 27, either to Osan Air Base in South Korea or Hawaii, the official said, adding that the date may change as the two sides planned to iron out final details during another meeting in the near future.

The date would be symbolic as it marks the 65th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the war instead of a peace treaty.

The North Koreans informed the U.S. delegates that they’ll return 50 to 55 sets of remains of U.S. servicemembers, the official said. It would be the first repatriation of remains since 2007 as search efforts stalled amid rising tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons program.

The official said Monday’s meeting was focused on the return of remains and the North Koreans apparently did not raise other issues or request anything in return, despite speculation in South Korean media that they would try to tie the repatriation to other demands.

It’s unclear how the North Koreans could be certain of the nationalities, although they have in the past included dog tags. The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, which oversees the effort, has cautioned that the identification process is complicated and often takes years.

The Hawaii-based DPAA says it has family reference samples for more than 90 percent of the missing servicemembers. But past remains have been found to be mixed up with other unidentified individuals and in at least one case animal bones.

Thousands of Americans were believed to have been lost on the northern side of the heavily fortified border, which has divided the peninsula as the adversaries remain technically at war.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to recover remains, “including the immediate repatriation of thos e already identified,” along with other commitments during his unprecedented summit with President Donald Trump on June 12 in Singapore.

The historic meeting was focused on efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons, and the agreement to return remains was seen as a goodwill gesture.

But the process has been slow, with the North Koreans keeping the U.S.-led United Nations Command on standby for weeks after the military sent dozens of temporary coffins to the DMZ in preparation.

The North also failed to show up at a July 12 meeting that had been announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, reportedly asking the Americans to send a general officer on Sunday for the first high-level military talks between the two sides in more than nine years.

Pompeo said Sunday that the talks, which were led by U.S. and North Korean two-star generals, were “productive and cooperative and resulted in firm commitments.” The sides also a greed to resume field operations to search for more remains in the North and to hold the working-level talks on Monday.

The State Department confirmed that talks resumed Monday in Panmunjom “to continue coordination on the transfer of remains already collected in (North Korea) and the re-commencing of field operations,” but declined to provide more details.

“We do not discuss the details of private diplomatic discussions,” a State Department official said in an email.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.

The State Department has taken the lead on the negotiations, although the issue of war dead on the peninsula is usually handled by the U.N. command, which oversees the cease-fire.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last month that the UNC would handle the return of the remains since 16 nations fought under the U.N. flag during the war.

More than 36,000 U.S. troops died in the Korean War, according to the Pentagon. That figure includes some 7,700 still unaccounted for, with an estimated 5,300 believed to have been lost in the North.

The DPAA says that North Korean officials have indicated in the past that “as many as 200 sets of remains” are in custody and could be ready for return.

gamel.kim@stripes.com
Twitter: @kimgamel

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Posted by On 5:54 PM

President Trump calls nuclear proliferation world's most serious problem â€" then says 'no rush' with North Korea

Fresh off his widely criticized press conference with Vladimir Putin on Monday, President Trump declared nuclear proliferation the “biggest problem” facing the world â€" only to in the same breath downplay the looming nuclear threat of North Korea.

Trump made the non-sequitur in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity directly after his appearance with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, during which the President refused to fault Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

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“To me, the most important issue is the nuclear issue,” Trump told Hannity, according to an excerpt of the interview released by Fox producer Fin Gomez. “If you look at Russia and the United States, that’s 90% of the nuclear weapons. And we start doing something and working on other countries. And (Putin) also said he wants to be very helpful with North Korea. We’re doing well with North Korea, we have time. There’s no rush, it has been going on for many years.”

Trump also took a jab at his predecessor during the Fox interview, which is set to air in full at 9 p.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a farm in Samjiyon County.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a farm in Samjiyon County. (KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Getty Images)

“I know President Obama said global warming is our biggest problem, and I would say that no, it’s nuclear warming is our biggest problem by a factor of about five million,” Trump said.

Despite Trump’s unprecedented summit with Kim Jong Un last month, North Korea has continued to expand its nuclear weapons program, according to multiple reports.

Trump proclai med immediately after his sit-down with Kim that the North Korean regime “no longer” posed “a nuclear threat.”

Source: Google News North Korea | Netizen 24 North Korea

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Posted by On 5:08 PM

GOP plans sanctions against Chinese banks that aid North Korea

A key House Republican is planning legislation imposing new sanctions on major Chinese banks and other entities that help North Korea circumvent international sanctions.

“How do you hold Russia and China accountable?” Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who chairs the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee for the Asia-Pacific, told the Washington Examiner. “That's really where the fight is going to be on bringing North Korea to the table.”

The Florida Republican met Friday with State Department officials, after an initial move Thursday to coordinate his effort with the House Financial Services Committee. It’s an effort to stiffen the implementation of sanctions in one area where some North Korea hawks believe the administration’s pressure campaign has been soft.

“We're either serious about bringing this to an end or we're going to repeat the mistakes of the last three administrations,” Yoho said.

The Trump administration has vowed not to make such errors. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that North Korea would receive no economic sanctions relief “until denuclearization is complete” during a July 8 press conference.

His public reminder came on the heels of a rocky trip to Pyongyang. The North Korean foreign ministry decried Pompeo’s “gangster like” demands. Then, North Korean officials failed to appear on Thursday at a meeting with U.S. officials to discuss the repatriation of the remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the Korean War.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s resistance in the month since the historic Singapore summit with President Trump has been enabled by Russian and Chinese assistance. Oil has continue to flow into the pariah state, in defiance of an annual cap imposed by the United Nations Securit y Council in December. North Korea breached that cap sometime between February and May, according to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, buoyed by at least 89 illegal ship-to-ship transfers on the high seas.

“We're going to do everything in our power to hold this administration accountable, but we're also going to put the pressure on China and Russia,” Yoho said. “I personally feel Russia and China love the distraction for the United States to be involved in this because it allows [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to expand over there in the Baltic nations and allows China to keep expanding around the world.”

Yoho’s plan to achieve that goal entails confronting China with the kind of sanctions pressure that the Trump administration, at least so far, has refused to apply. Congressional Republicans last year provided the administration with a list of Chinese banks implicated in money-laundering on behalf of North Korea. The Tre asury Department shelved a plan to sanction two of the largest banks on the list in April.

“Chinese banks are violating U.S. law and are allowed to do so... for things that, if European or other banks had done for Iran sanctions, they would have been punished long ago,” sanctions expert Anthony Ruggiero told the Washington Examiner in June.

At the time he offered that criticism, Ruggiero was a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. But he joined the White House National Security Council’s North Korea team in July, a personnel move that national security hawks find reassuring.

“The fact that they are bringing in hardliners to keep them honest will only bolster the case of the people who want to take a wait-and-see approach,” a senior congressional Republican aide told the Washington Examiner.

Yoho is inclined not to wait, however. For one thing, he hopes that sanctions saber-rattling wi ll empower the Trump administration, as Congress plays a “bad cop” role. And he believes that the congressional maneuvers will find favor within the Trump administration.

“We were talking about the different tools and they agreed that there's more sanctions [to be implemented],” Yoho said of his meeting with officials from the State Department Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. “They were real welcoming of any stuff we can do to give them another arrow in the quiver.”

Still, his targeting of “the big banks” in China will press the Treasury Department to take a step that “they
chose not to” take just a few months ago, he acknowledged. “My goal is to have them mandatory, have the force of law behind them that these need to be implemented; and if they're not implemented, you got to let us know why,” the lawmaker said.

Yoho recalled that Treasury Department officials told lawmak ers that it would be “too disruptive” to blacklist the largest Chinese banks. But that’s not true, he argued; the assessment underestimates the severity of the North Korea crisis.

“There are no banks too big to sanction when it comes down to doing this stuff with North Korea,” he said. “They're going to have to decide, is the price of doing business with North Korea worth the pain the United States is causing?”

The legislative process for Yoho’s plan is in its infancy, but he has been in contact already with House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and expects to draft the bill as a joint effort between the two committees.

“I'm going to team up with every other entity I can in the House that we can,” he said. “It's going to be a continual process, but what [the Trump administration] can be rest assured on is that we're going to continue the pressure out of our committee, wi th the other members we've talked to in Financial Services and some of the other committees.”

Source: Google News North Korea | Netizen 24 North Korea