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Thursday
Jun142018

Trump administration reinstates funding to Syrian aid group White Helmets

Amer Almohibany/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump has authorized the release of $6.6 million in funding to the humanitarian group the Syrian Civil Defense, commonly referred to as the White Helmets, according to the State Department.

“The United States government strongly supports the White Helmets who have saved more than 100,000 lives since the conflict began, including victims of Assad’s chemical weapons attacks,” a State Department statement read.

The funding will also benefit the United Nation’s International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM), which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Syria.

The White Helmets, an all-volunteer group, have been lauded internationally for their lifesaving actions, rushing into bombing sites to evacuate citizens and provide medical care. They have ministered to the victims of Syrian President Bashar Assad government’s chemical weapons attacks, and they often become targets of Syrian and Russian airstrikes. Their efforts were chronicled in a critically acclaimed Netflix documentary.

In March, the administration froze more than $200 million in aid to Syria, including aid to the White Helmets, for "re-evaluation." At the time, President Trump was blasting U.S. spending in the Middle East. At a March 29 infrastructure event in Ohio, Trump said U.S. troops would soon be coming out of Syria and that the U.S. should “let other people take care of it.”

There are currently approximately 2,000 U.S. service members in Syria, and there are dozens of United States Agency for International Development and State Department officials and contractors working on de-mining, rubble removal, and restoring water and electricity.

A State Department statement during the time that funding was frozen said the department continually re-evaluates appropriate assistance levels and how they are best utilized.

One State Department official defended the decision to freeze funding, telling ABC News that the U.S. "jointly supports the White Helmets with other donors, and we expect their operations to continue as a result of additional multilateral donors. The president has been clear that partners and allies should assume a larger role in stabilizing Syria."

The White Helmets had received about $33 million from the U.S. at the time the funding was frozen. There are about 3,000 volunteers in the group.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jun142018

A year later, Grenfell Tower fire victims remembered

Simon Dawson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Londoners who lost loved ones in the Grenfell Tower fire marked the anniversary at the remnants of the building Thursday with a moment of silence to remember the 72 victims who died.

Many wiped away tears and carried white flowers in their hands. Some wore green as part of a campaign to show support for those whose lives were forever altered by the fire.

Mahmoud Alkarad, a Syrian refugee who lived in the tower at the time of the fire, brought a photo of his close friend Mohammad Alhaj Ali, who died in the fire.

“It's been a year, and it went so quickly,” he told ABC News. “It’s emotional to be here and remember my friend and how we used to live.”

Alkarad added that it's been comforting to mourn with others who lost friends and family members in the blaze. Since the fire, he said he has gotten to know many of his former neighbors.

“We are united now,” he said. “I used to know 10 people in the tower. Now I know 40.”

The fire, which broke out last year in the overnight hours in North Kensington, burned for about 24 hours. It took hundreds of firefighters to get the 24-story structure under control.

The deadly blaze in the public housing apartment complex sparked outrage and raised questions about inequality in one of the richest boroughs of London. Before the fire, residents had complained about lack of safety in the building and warned that a massive fire could happen.

A public inquiry examining the circumstances leading up to the fire recently included feedback from experts, who determined that there were safety issues with doors, ventilators and elevators in the building and that external cladding helped the flames spread quickly. The fire started on the fourth floor, but it only took minutes for flames to engulf the building.

London’s Metropolitan Police is carrying out a criminal investigation and considering manslaughter charges.

On Thursday, a nationwide moment of silence was observed at noon local time. It lasted 72 seconds -- one second for each victim.

The tower was lit green at 12:54 a.m., the same time the fire was first reported one year ago.

At the memorial, the names of the 72 people who died in the fire were read aloud, followed by the words “forever in our hearts.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan laid a wreath in front of the tower.

British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted a tribute to the victims of the fire and their loved ones.

"Today, we remember those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower and pay tribute to their family, friends and loved ones for the strength and dignity they have shown," she tweeted.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jun142018

Trump seen in awkward exchange of salutes with North Korean general on state TV

Handout/Getty Images(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- President Donald Trump saluted a North Korean general in an awkward moment captured on video and broadcast by North Korean state media on Thursday.

The brief interaction was featured in a 42-minute-long program about Tuesday's unprecedented summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The program, narrated by North Korea's most famous newscaster, Ri Chun-hee, aired on state-run television two days after the summit in Singapore and a full day after Kim returned home to his country's capital, Pyongyang.

In the video, Trump can be seen going to shake the hand of a North Korean general, who salutes the American president instead. Trump then returns the salute before the two finally shake hands, while Kim looks on as a grin spreads across his face.

The footage offered a behind-the-scenes look at Kim's trip, including his arrival in Singapore on a chartered Air China flight and his motorcade driving past what appeared to be a warm welcome from throngs of people crammed on the streets.

In the video, Kim can also be seen lounging in his swanky room at the St. Regis Singapore, one of the most luxurious hotels on the island city-state, and heading out for an evening tour the night before the summit.

North Korean viewers had to wait almost 20 minutes into the program for Trump's first appearance. The video included the lengthy handshake between the two leaders, which took place before their one-on-one meeting at the luxury Capella Hotel on Singapore's Sentosa Island.

It was the first time a sitting U.S. president met face to face with a North Korean leader. On the agenda were North Korea’s illicit nuclear weapons program and a potential deal to denuclearize the country.

The North Korean state TV broadcast also showed Trump and Kim after the meeting, signing their joint agreement in which North Korea pledged to take steps to denuclearize, while the United States vowed to end military exercises in South Korea. Both leaders invited each other to visit their respective capitals in the future.

The carefully crafted program repeatedly showed North Korea's supreme leader smiling, and depicted him as polite, confident and completely in control. Kim has ruled with an iron fist since 2011, when he assumed power following his father's death.

All media in North Korea is controlled by the state, and so the program's entirely positive view of Kim, the summit and its results come as no surprise.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jun142018

Ireland to vote on removing blasphemy from constitution

iStock/Thinkstock(DUBLIN) -- Less than a month after Ireland held a remarkable referendum vote that legalized abortion, government officials announced plans this week to hold a referendum on removing the offense of blasphemy from its constitution.

Ireland’s constitution, which was written in 1937 following its independence from the United Kingdom, states that the "publication of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offense which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”

The Defamation Act of 2009 outlines a fine of just under $30,000 liable for anyone convicted of the offense, defining the act as “publishing or uttering matters that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”

The last known conviction for blasphemy in Ireland was in 1855, according to the Irish news outlet The Journal.

In 2015, police in Ireland investigated a complaint of blasphemy with regard to comments made by the author and broadcaster Stephen Fry on the Irish state broadcaster RTE.

Fry was asked for his thoughts on the existence of God, to which he replied that “the god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish.”

The complaint was made by a member of the public who asked not to be identified.

The investigation was dropped in 2017 after police failed to find a significant number of people offended by his comments.

The announcement of the referendum follows a landmark vote last month to legalize abortion. Ireland was one of the last countries in Europe where abortion remained illegal.

The government hopes for changes in the law on abortion to be effective by the end of the year.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jun142018

US Ambassador returns letter written by Christopher Columbus to the Vatican

iStock/Thinkstock(ROME) -- The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican returned a letter written by Christopher Columbus after it was stolen and replaced with a forgery, officials said.

“The Columbus Letter, as it is known, is an account of the explorer’s discovery of America written in 1493 to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain,” according to a press release from the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

The letter was translated into Latin and several copies were distributed throughout Europe, the embassy said. The letter was stolen from the Vatican Library and sold in 2004, according to the Department of Justice.

After the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Investigations discovered that the copy held in the Vatican was a fake, they contacted a man named Robert Parsons, who purchased a copy of the original letter in 2004, the release said.

Parsons’ widow, Mary Parsons, decided to return the letter to the Vatican and relinquish her rights to it, according to a press release.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Callista L Gingrich, delivered the letter to Vatican’s archivist and librarian, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, and the prefect, Bishop Cesare Pasini.

“The Columbus Letter, written in 1493, is a priceless piece of cultural history. I am honored to return this remarkable letter to the Vatican Library -- its rightful owner," Ambassador Gingrich said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jun132018

Senators move to prevent Trump from removing US troops in South Korea

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A pair of Senate Democrats introduced a bill Wednesday that would prevent President Donald Trump from unilaterally drawing down the American troop presence on the Korean peninsula – not necessarily because he’s said he will, but because they don’t want to rely on his word that he won’t.

Other measures that also tie the president’s hands, but don’t go as far, are already closer to being passed as part of an essential military policy bill.

The new legislation, from Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., would prevent Trump from withdrawing troops from South Korea unless the secretary of defense says it’s in the interest of national security and that it would not undermine the security of allies in the region.

“U.S. troops are not bargaining chips to be offered up in an off-handed manner,” Duckworth said in a statement.

During his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump announced the U.S. would be ending large-scale annual military exercises conducted with South Korea but insisted that the status of the 28,500 American soldiers on the peninsula is not up for negotiation.

“They are going to stay. We didn’t even discuss that, that wasn’t discussed,” Trump said in an interview with Voice of America.

But he also said, during a press conference, that he still wants to draw down troops in Korea at some point – just not as part of negotiations over the North’s nuclear capability.

“At some point, I have to be honest. I used to say this during my campaign… I want to bring our soldiers back home. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. I would like to be able to bring them back home. That’s not part of the equation. At some point, I hope it would be,” he said.

That type of uncertainty was enough for Murphy to try to establish some new restrictions.

“I don’t think it’s smart policy for Congress to rely on the word of the president,” the Connecticut Democrat told ABC. “This time he gave away exercises for nothing, what’s to stop him from giving away troops for nothing?”

The two Democrats want their amendment added to the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets military policy for the next fiscal year. The House’s version already has a similar provision, which would limit funds that can be used to reduce troop levels in South Korea, and the Senate includes a “sense of the Senate” provision stipulating that “the significant removal of the United States military forces from the Korean Peninsula is a non-negotiable item” as it relates to North Korea’s denuclearization.

Once each chamber passes its respective NDAA, the two must be merged in what is known as a conference committee.

So while Murphy would obviously like to see his bill passed, he acknowledged that this year’s NDAA will be making some sort of a statement warning the president not to try to reduce troop levels in South Korea unless there is a national security imperative.

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who wrote the sense of the Senate resolution, said he is concerned Trump might try to limit troop numbers on the Korean peninsula, which he warned would play right into China’s desires to have an unchallenged presence in the region.

“The Chinese have probably been coaching Kim Jong Un to seek that as part of the nuclear negotiation goals,” he told ABC.

Last month, Trump ordered the Pentagon to issue options for reducing the American presence in South Korea, despite his administration’s assurances that they were not a bargaining chip in the Kim talks.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said those kinds of comments indicate that it might be time to consider tying the president’s hands when it comes to defense on the peninsula.

“I generally wouldn’t be open to that, but I might be now,” he told ABC, although he added that the Senate should hold a hearing on the Murphy/Duckworth proposition before any votes are contemplated.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jun132018

A year later, survivors of London's Grenfell Tower fire try to cope

Lena Masri/ABC News(LONDON) -- Omar Alhaj Ali recently had a dream about his brother Mohammad, who died in last year’s fire in London's Grenfell Tower apartment complex where they both lived.

In the dream, Mohammad told him, ‘don’t worry, everything will be fine. The family will be good. Your life will be good.’

“That was the best dream, you know,” Alhaj Ali told ABC News.

One year after the high rise tower fire, which killed 72 people, survivors are still coping with the grief.

Alhaj Ali, who escaped from the 14th floor but lost his brother Mohammad on the way out, said he has regular nightmares about the blaze - which broke out before 1 a.m. on June 14, 2017. He remembers the sounds from that night - the shouting, the panic - and how the fire inched closer and closer to him and his brother.

“When I wake up I feel like I want to cry and then I try to control myself -- because I feel I miss him a lot,” he said. “I straight away go to visit his graveyard and to pray for him because whenever he comes to my dream I feel like maybe he misses me and I have to visit him.”

Alhaj Ali and his late brother escaped the war in their home country of Syria and moved to the United Kingdom (U.K.) in 2014. They moved into an apartment in Grenfell Tower with their childhood friend Mahmoud Alkarad less than a year before the fire.

“It’s a hard feeling to survive by myself without my brother,” said Alhaj Ali. “Why? You know, why that happened? Sometimes I say God wanted that to happen. Maybe to be with my family or maybe I survived to talk to everyone about Mohammad so everyone can know who he was.

"Maybe if I passed away with him, maybe no one will hear about him or maybe no one will support the family.“

Alhaj Ali’s parents and sisters from Syria moved to the U.K. after Mohammad’s death. They are still staying at a hotel and Alhaj Ali lives with them there, even though he signed a lease for a new apartment about five months ago, he said. He also said he doesn’t want to leave them alone at the hotel and that he likes being with his family.

“When I come here I feel more alone,” he said during an interview in his apartment in west London. “I used to live with my brother and friend but when I come here, there’s no one, only me. So that’s why I feel spending more time with the family makes me feel better.”

A criminal police investigation is ongoing as well as a public inquiry examining the cause of the Grenfell Tower fire. In the first stage of the inquiry, relatives spoke about their loved ones who died in the fire. Alhaj Ali, his family and Alkarad participated.

“It was sad to talk about what happened and about Mohammad,” Alkarad, who wasn't home at the time of the fire, told ABC News. “I feel very sad and angry as well because it’s not his fault. It’s something crazy. You hear people talking about how they lost two, three or four, some lost five members of their family.”

After he escaped from the war in Syria, Alkarad said he felt safe in the U.K. Now, he said, he feels like bad things follow him. He often can’t sleep because he thinks about his friend who died and about what might happen in the future. He recently spoke to a friend from Syria who didn’t know that he had lived in Grenfell Tower and lost a friend in the fire.

“He said ‘you moved from your country and...how many buildings in the U.K? It’s your building? It’s unbelievable that it happened to you.’ Every time you run from terrible things, it follows you,” said Alkarad.

After the fire, he lived in a hotel, but now he lives in an apartment in west London. He lost everything in the fire, but has purchased a few things that his friend Mohammad had purchased: tea cups and a briefcase. He also goes to the restaurant Mohammad used to like and buys the chips his friend used to eat.

When the fire alarm goes off in Alkarad's building, he panics, he said. Sometimes when he takes the bus or the train he feels scared that it will crash.

He said that when he thinks about Grenfell Tower, his heart starts beating fast, that he has trouble focusing on work or studies and that he worries about his future. In Syria, he was a professional handball player. Since the fire, he has only played once, but he said he hopes to go back to the sport in the future.

“I hope I can study again and play sport and I was thinking about creating a handball team,” he said. “I could be a coach here and try to create young or junior team and build them until they are, you know, in the super league.”

But as long as the police investigation and public inquiry is ongoing he is not going to be able to find rest or move on with his life, he said. He keeps reading news updates about them and it reminds him of the fire.

“People won’t feel okay until they hear the truth,” he said. “And If there’s a person or a group or some people involved in the fire, they could go to jail, and people won’t be happy, but at least they get justice.”

Experts who have investigated Grenfell Tower as part of the public inquiry have found that there were safety issues with elevators, ventilation systems and doors in the 25-story building, and that cladding that had been fitted to the building as part of a refurbishment helped the fire spread quickly.

The experts also found that the fire department’s advice to residents to stay in their apartments failed.

“The negligence that happened and how they ignored people that night of the fire, the quality of the building, the health of safety of the building, it wasn’t right,” said Alhaj Ali. “Hopefully we will have the justice and truth one day.”

He said he no longer knows what he dreams about.

“Now everything I dreamed about has been changed,” he said. “I used to dream about being together with all members of the family. Now we’re trying to move but still every time we remember him, every time we feel that there is a gap.

"It cannot be like before," he continued. "The only thing I’m dreaming about now is that my family will be okay and that they can feel more settled and that we can be together, sharing our grief together, moving forward together.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jun132018

Assault on Yemen's largest port threatens to increase mass starvation

iStock/Thinkstock(SANAA, Yemen) -- A military coalition led by Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates forces, with vital guidance and supplies provided by the United States, has launched the largest assault of Yemen's war, with an attack on the massive port city of Hodeidah.

As many as 22 million people -- three-quarters of Yemen’s population -- could be at risk of losing access to necessary food and medicines they receive through the port, amid a worsening humanitarian crisis on the verge of famine that the U.N. has described as the world’s most dire.

"Any attack on or significant, long-term disruption of operations of the port will have catastrophic consequences for the people of Yemen," Frank McManus, the International Rescue Committee's country director in Yemen, told ABC News.

Saudi Arabian warplanes and warships began pounding the fortifications of the Iranian-supplied Houthi rebels Wednesday morning to support ground operation “Golden Victory,” led by Yemeni troops massed south of the port of Hodeidah, witnesses told reporters.

The assault threatens the safety of humanitarian workers in the city, as well as around 400,000 people living there, McManus said.

"We condemn to the fullest extent the launch of an attack by the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition on Yemen's port city of Hodeidah," he said.

Human rights groups said airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition have killed and wounded thousands of civilians, often in indiscriminate attacks.

Wednesday's military operations mark the first time the Arab states have launched such a wide-scale attack since joining the war three years ago against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who control the capital Sanaa and most of the populated areas of northern Yemen.

The U.S. has backed the Saudi Arabian and Emirati forces through diplomacy, selling them billions of dollars per year in arms and providing logistical support such as warplane refueling and military intelligence.

A major battle that throws the people of Yemen into further crisis and starvation could test that support.

"Hodeidah is absolutely essential to the preserving of life," the United Nation's emergency relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said this week. "If, for any periods, Hodeidah were not to operate effectively, the consequences, in humanitarian terms, would be catastrophic."

Lowcock briefed the U.N. Security Council in a closed-door session on Monday and spoke to reporters afterwards.

"Ninety percent of the food and fuel and the medicines that are consumed in Yemen are imported; 70 percent of them come through Hodeidah,” he said. "Seven million people are completely relying every month on food and more than 7 million on other assistance from humanitarian organizations."

On Wednesday, the U.N. further warned that escalating violence in Yemen could lead to a refugee exodus as more people flee the famine and fighting.

"It's actually surprising that an exodus has not happened yet," United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi told reporters in Geneva.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jun132018

How North Korea is portraying Kim Jong Un's historic summit with Trump

iStock/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- The portrayal of Tuesday's historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is following predictable patterns in the U.S., often falling along party lines. But how is it playing out inside Kim's kingdom?

All of the media, limited as it may be, in North Korea is controlled by the state. It is, of course, therefore an entirely positive review of the summit and the results.

North Korea’s newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, featured a series of pictures of Trump and Kim Jong Un shaking hands and standing side by side on its front page on Wednesday. The headline reads, "A summit meeting of the century that pioneered a new history in DPRK-US relations," with a subheadline of "A joint statement adopted."

Overall, the paper reads as if complete denuclearization was not a major issue. The article was written in chronological order, describing the day of the summit with plenty of praise for Kim's greatness and how well they got along.

The article mentions "denuclearization" -- without the word "complete" -- only once, in a paragraph buried in context.

"Our dear great leader said many problems arose from deep-rooted mistrust and hostility that exists between the two countries, and in order to realize peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and denuclearization, both countries should promise to have understanding of and not be hostile to each other, and must establish legal, systematical measures that would assure such."

The article ran across four pages out of the six-page newspaper with 33 color photos from the summit.

North Korean TV’s most famous newsreader, Ri Chun Hee, also known as the "Pink Lady," announced the results of the Trump-Kim summit on Wednesday at 4 a.m. ET, specifically highlighting Trump’s "intention to halt the U.S.–South Korea joint military exercises" and "offer security guarantees to the DPRK and lift sanctions against it as mutual relations improve."

Details about sanctions being lifted is unclear, as Trump specifically said they would not be lifted in a press conference following the summit.

"They share the same heritage, language, customs, culture and destiny, but to realize their amazing destiny, to reunite their national family, the menace of nuclear weapons will now be removed," Trump said of the Korean Peninsula. "In the meantime, the sanctions will remain in effect. We dream of a future where all Koreans can live together in harmony, where families are reunited and hopes are reborn, and where the light of peace chases away the darkness of war."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the same thing to reporters on Tuesday, "This signed agreement has occurred with no relief from sanctions."

Trump hailed the summit as a tremendous success in the hours after he departed Singapore on Tuesday. He tweeted thanks to Kim from Air Force One multiple times for the summit, which he called unprecedented and historic. Trump landed back in Washington just after 5 a.m. Wednesday.

"The World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe! No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research! The hostages are back home with their families," he tweeted. "Thank you to Chairman Kim, our day together was historic!"

Trump and Kim signed a document pledging that North Korea would take steps to denuclearize, while Trump also said he would be ending military exercises in South Korea. Both leaders invited each other to visit their respective capitals in the future.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jun132018

Trump proclaims 'there is no longer a nuclear threat' upon return from summit

Kevin Lim/The Strait Times/Handout/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  President Donald Trump took to Twitter to reassure Americans to "sleep well tonight" upon landing in Washington, D.C., early Wednesday morning after the landmark summit in Singapore between the United States and North Korea.

He tweeted out a few congratulations to candidates running in primary races on Tuesday, in addition to taking a victory lap for his summit with Kim Jong Un. He also took a shot at his predecessor in office, saying the "most dangerous problem" outlined by Barack Obama was no longer a threat.

Trump returned to the United States after he wrapped a day of high-stakes meetings with Kim and ultimately came to an agreement with the supreme leader on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.


But before he landed back home, both opponents and allies raised concerns about any peace agreement with such a longtime enemy of the United States.

"I read the statement, and it's difficult for me to see if something was actually agreed to or not," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. He added that the Trump-Kim agreement is nothing more than a "few sentences on a sheet of paper" that were "very aspirational."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted, "One more thing about KJU. While I know @potus is trying to butter him up to get a good deal, #KJU is NOT a talented guy. He inherited the family business from his dad & grandfather. He is a total weirdo who would not be elected assistant dog catcher in any democracy."

Trump was also criticized for giving too many concessions to North Korea, including failing to acknowledge the human rights crimes alleged against Kim, and pledging to end the "war games" or the joint military exercises conducted with a long-standing ally of the United States -- South Korea.

"It is worrisome -- very worrisome -- that this joint statement is so imprecise," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "What the U.S. has gained is vague and unverifiable at best. What North Korea has gained is tangible and lasting. We've legitimized a brutal dictator who's starved his own people."

A senior South Korean defense ministry official said Tuesday that South Korea is trying to determine exactly what President Trump meant when he said exercises would end.

The brief one-page agreement emerging from the summit provides a framework for a path toward peace with the secluded authoritarian state, but the United States did not achieve many of the goals outlined by the administration leading into the summit.

During a news conference after the summit, when asked why "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization" was not secured in the details of the agreement, Trump conceded that there simply was "no time."

"I'm here one day," he said. "We're together for many hours intensively, but the process is now going to take place."

A timeline laying out exactly when denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will happen or how long that will take has yet to be determined.

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