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Who’s to blame for the hiccup in North Korea talks? South Koreans say Bolton.

National security adviser John Bolton listens as President Trump talks during a meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in April. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
May 21 at 1:53 PM

President Trump is blaming Kim Jong Un for changing the scope of their summit talks planned for next month and will doubtless air his frustrations when he meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington on Tuesday.

But in South Korea, many say the blame for the sudden problems in the diplomatic process lies squarely at the feet of someone else: John Bolton.

“There are several land mines on the way to the summit between North Korea and the U.S.,” said Chung Dong-young, who served as unification minister during the last progressive administration and is now a lawmaker. “One of those land mines just exploded: John Bolton,” Chung told YTN Radio.

Woo Sang-ho, a lawmaker in Moon’s ruling Democratic Party, agreed. “Bolton’s preposterous ‘Libya solution’ is a red light in North Korea’s summit talks with the U.S. and South Korea,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Officials now in senior positions in the Moon administration know the current American national security adviser’s background all too well. Many served under pro-engagement president Roh Moo-hyun, at a time when Bolton was a strong proponent inside the George W. Bush administration of the invasion of Iraq and of regime change in North Korea.

“I think a lot of people who were involved with the Roh administration are concerned about Bolton because he was such a neoconservative at the time, and it seems that he hasn’t changed,” said Lee Geun, a professor of political science at Seoul National University. “People are worried that he’s going to interfere and botch the process,” Lee said.

 2:38
Seven of Bolton’s hawkish moments

Here are some of the instances that earned President Trump’s pick for national security adviser, John Bolton, a hawkish reputation. 

A spokesman for Bolton, now Trump’s national security adviser, could not immediately be reached for comment.

After meetings with top officials here last week, one American analyst remarked — only half in jest — that the South Koreans detested Bolton as much as the North Koreans.

Moon’s visit to Washington on Tuesday was scheduled in the wake of his own feel-good summit with Kim at the end of April and was intended to help Trump prepare for his summit with the North Korean leader, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

Trump had repeatedly said the talks were shaping up well, even calling Kim “nice” for releasing three American prisoners held for more than a year. Until last week, that is, when North Korea made clear it had no interest in “unilateral nuclear abandonment” and would “reconsider” proceeding with the summit if that were the condition.

This followed Bolton’s appearance on the Sunday shows May 13 to tout the “Libya model” whereby Moammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program in 2003 in return for sanctions relief. The North Korean regime, however, remembers what happened afterward: Gaddafi was overthrown and brutally killed by his opponents.

This repeated mention of Libya caused Kim Gye Gwan, North Korea’s vice foreign minister and a figure well known to American officials thanks to his role in 2005 denuclearization talks, to denounce Bolton. He said North Korea could “not hide a feeling of repugnance toward” Bolton, a man the regime had previously derided as “human scum” and a “bloodsucker.”

The Chosun Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper based in Japan, doubled down on the criticism. The “super-hard-line” Bolton “has no clear ideology or theory,” the paper wrote. “Instead, he is a simple follower of simple thinking, racism and the narrow-minded America First policy.”

Lee Jong-seok, who served as South Korea’s unification minister in the later years of the Roh administration, said the two sides seized on different lessons from Libya. Bolton looked at it as a successful case of denuclearizing a rogue regime, while North Korea focused on the dictator’s grisly end.

“Bolton created a mess by bringing up the ‘Libya model,’ which is deeply dreaded by Pyongyang,” Lee said. He added that he considers Kim Gye Gwan’s response “low-key” in the circumstances.

“Things would have gotten out of hand had it not been for the immediate follow-up from Trump himself,” Lee said.

Trump contradicted Bolton, saying he was not thinking of a Libya model — “we decimated that country” — but an outcome where Kim remained in power and his economy flourished under a denuclearization deal.

Others play down concerns about Bolton, noting that he is in frequent contact with his South Korean counterpart.

“I do not worry about Bolton,” said Moon Chung-in, a usually outspoken adviser to the South Korean president. “He will follow President Trump’s lead.”

The biggest problem comes, experts here say, from Trump’s fundamental misunderstanding of North Korea’s interests.

The regime in Pyongyang has never said it was prepared to unilaterally give up its nuclear program but has instead repeatedly made it clear this would have to be part of a “phased and synchronous” process that would involve rewards for North Korea along the way.

“Kim Jong Un coming out to talks is not an act of one-way surrender, but a movement to adjust mutual interests,” said Lee Jong-seok, now at the pro-engagement Sejong Institute outside Seoul. “It’s not that North Korea rejects complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, but rather they need a tangible promise from Washington in return.”

While some here think the Trump administration does not adequately understand North Korea’s negotiating tactics, others think Trump is practicing his own “art of the deal.”

Bolton’s posturing looks like a ploy to Nam Sung-wook, a senior intelligence official under a conservative government who is now professor of North Korean studies at Korea University.

“Trump would have been well aware of Bolton’s hawkish stance when hiring him, and Bolton is now effectively playing the role of ‘bad cop,’” Nam said. “I don’t think the Libya model was part of Washington’s strategy from the beginning, but was just brought up to raise the stakes as much as possible before the summit. That’s Trump’s negotiation strategy.”

Either way, many in South Korea are worried about what happens if the Singapore summit fails to meet expectations — or if it produces a denuclearization deal that North Korea fails to honor.

Bolton is widely perceived to have a penchant for military action, as illustrated in a column he wrote for the Wall Street Journal in February laying out the legal arguments for strikes on North Korea.

“In South Korea, many people, regardless of their political orientation, are not fond of John Bolton,” said one senior official close to Moon, asking for anonymity to discuss the sensitive relationship. “He seems to think the U.S. can fight another war on the Korean Peninsula, so from our perspective, as the people living on the Korean Peninsula, he is very dangerous.”

Gina Haspel becomes first woman to head CIA

President Trump praised Gina Haspel as she was sworn in as the new head of the CIA. She’s the first woman to head the agency, but her nomination was overshadowed by allegations she was involved in torture programs.

    
US President Donald Trump and CIA Director Gina Haspel (picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Vucci)

Gina Haspel called for more agents to be deployed overseas as she was sworn in as director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on Monday.

US President Donald Trump, who nominated Haspel after tapping former CIA head Mike Pompeo for secretary of state, said that there was “no one in this country better qualified” for the job.

Haspel is the first woman to head the US intelligence agency, a distinction she said she was proud of.

“I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations of CIA women who challenged stereotypes, broke down barriers and opened doors for the rest of us,” Haspel told agency employees at the swearing-in.

Read moreCIA: The Gina Haspel controversy runs deeper than her appointment

New plan for CIA

Haspel, who has worked for the agency for 33 years, also took the opportunity to outline her vision for the CIA.

She told agency staffers that she wants to increase the CIA’s foreign language proficiency as well as strengthen the agency’s relationships with intelligence agencies in partner nations.

She also said she wants to deploy “more of our officers to the foreign field.”

CIA headquarters lobby in Langley, Virginia (Reuters/L. Downing)Haspel’s role in the CIA’s enhanced interrogation methods drew criticism

Torture program allegations

The US Senate confirmed Trump’s nomination of Haspel in a 54-45 vote last week.

Haspel’s long career as a CIA agent and a supervisor of the agency’s clandestine operations was praised by her supporters, who argued she was highly qualified to head the agency.

She faced a great deal of pushback, however, over her role in the agency’s use of brutal interrogation methods after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

Haspel was CIA station chief in Thailand in 2002 when the agency conducted harsh interrogations including waterboarding of suspected terrorists at secret “black site” facilities abroad. She’s also been criticized for her role in the destruction of interrogation videotapes.

In a letter sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel appeared to reject the interrogation methods, writing: “With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken.”

Watch video09:18

The US under President Trump: Former CIA director Leon Panetta speaks to DW

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Hawaii volcano activity prompts new threats as man seriously injured from lava spatter

A man was seriously injured when he was hit with lava spatter while standing on his third-floor balcony — the first known injury related to Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano eruptions as new volcanic activity creates new threats in surrounding neighborhoods.

The homeowner on Noni Farms Road in Pahoa was hit with lava on the shin and taken to the hospital with serious injuries, Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for the Office of the Mayor, told Reuters.

hawaii volcano

“Fast-moving” lava flows threatened to cut off a major escape route for Puna residents.  (USGS Volcanoes)

“It hit him on the shin, and shattered everything from there down on his leg,” Snyder said, adding that the lava spatter could weigh “as much as a refrigerator.”

“And even small pieces of spatter can kill,” she said.

HAWAII VOLCANO: WHAT’S THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO FOR KILAUEA?

No other information about the man and his condition were released as of Sunday morning.

“Even small pieces of spatter can kill”

– Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder

Lava oozing out of the 22 fissures that opened since Kilauea volcano began erupting more than two weeks ago on the Big Island has wreaked havoc in surrounding neighborhoods. Officials on Sunday said there were reports of increased sulfur dioxide emissions as two lava flows entered the ocean.

Hawaii Volcano Map 2

At least 22 fissures have opened up since Kilauea volcano began erupting more than two weeks ago.  (Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency)

To add to the dangers, officials also warned residents of laze, which could cause serious health hazards.

“Laze is formed when hot lava hits the ocean sending hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air,” Civil Defense Agency said. “Health hazards of laze include lung, eye and skin irritation. Be aware that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning.”

Another four homes were destroyed Friday and Saturday, totaling to nearly four dozen structures demolished. A handful of people were trapped when a flow crossed a road Friday. Some had to be airlifted to safety.

“They shouldn’t be in that area,” said County Managing Director Wil Okabe.

HAWAII VOLCANO EMITS MASSIVE CLOUD OF ASH INTO SKY, BUT GOLFERS SEEM OBLIVIOUS

“Fast-moving” flows on Saturday from fissure 20 in the volcano’s lower east rift zone ignited brush fires and incinerated everything in its path, Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency reported. Photos and videos from the scene showed a flow as smoke billowed from the edges where the bright red lava touched.

“County and state fire units are in the area, going door-to-door to make sure people are informed and check if they need assistance. Everyone needs to stay clear of this area,” officials said.

By Saturday night, the lava cut off Highway 137, a key escape route for residents in the area, at the 13-mile marker. Officials said they were monitoring a second flow early Sunday that was inching closer to the highway. Portions of Highway 137 and Highway 130 were closed.

HAWAII VOLCANO’S ‘EXPLOSIVE’ ERUPTION SENDS ASH PLUME SOARING, PROMPTS WARNING

hawaii volcano

The lava flows created brush fires. Lava from fissure 20 also entered the ocean.  (USGS Volcanoes)

The Big Island volcano released a small explosion at its summit just before midnight Friday, sending an ash cloud 10,000 feet into the sky. On Thursday, an “explosive” eruption emitted ash and rocks 30,000 feet into the sky.

Evacuation orders for two neighborhoods with nearly 2,000 people were given after a first fissure opened on May 3. Officials have been warning neighboring communities to be prepared to evacuate.

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

COURTESY: FOX NEWS

Iran Uses Nuclear Pact as Bargaining Chip With EU Over U.S. Sanctions

Tehran’s suggestion could drive wedge between Washington and Brussels

EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete was in Tehran with a plan to prevent Iran’s economic isolation and secure its commitment the nuclear accord.
EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete was in Tehran with a plan to prevent Iran’s economic isolation and secure its commitment the nuclear accord. PHOTO: ATTA KENARE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

TEHRAN—Iran vowed to uphold the pact curbing its nuclear activities if the European Union can offset renewed U.S. sanctions, senior officials here said, advocating an approach that would widen a deepening schism between Washington and Brussels.

The EU has redoubled its efforts to salvage the 2015 deal in the wake of President Donald Trump’s recent withdrawal of the U.S. The bloc dispatched Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete to Tehran over the weekend with a plan to prevent Iran’s economic isolation and secure its commitment the nuclear accord.

The EU’s plan faces daunting obstacles. The bloc would have to continue oil and gas purchases to keep Iran’s economy afloat, but do so by making payments outside of the U.S.-dominated global financial system and shielding European firms from U.S. sanctions.

“We hope that what they have presented to us, it will be materialized,” Iran’s nuclear chief, Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, said in an interview with Western journalists. He urged the EU to lead the fight against Washington to preserve the deal, saying Iran would honor its commitments if EU efforts broadly offset U.S. sanctions. “The ball is in their court,” he said of the EU.

Mr. Canete said the agreement’s “economic dividends” for Iran’s halting nuclear-weapons activities are at stake. Mr. Salehi, in a thinly-veiled warning to world powers concerned that Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, said the deal’s demise would give Tehran a “free hand in doing whatever we want.”

The EU’s efforts to safeguard the accord despite the U.S. add to growing clashes between Brussels and Washington. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week plans to outline Washington’s road map for starting negotiations on a new agreement with Iran.

Mr. Canete said at a press briefing with Mr. Salehi that the EU “deeply regrets” U.S. withdrawal from the Iran agreement and the EU “is determined to preserve the deal.”

In addition to clashing over the Iran accord, Brussels is threatening a trade war with the U.S. if Mr. Trump doesn’t exempt it from his steel and aluminum tariffs.

Yet Europe’s ability to sidestep U.S. sanctions are limited and untested.

The risk of an exodus by major European companies from Iran cast a pall over EU-Tehran discussions, after French energy giant Total SA said that without a U.S. waiver it may need to exit a $1 billion Iranian natural-gas deal.

“Europe failed in its first test,” Tehran Times Editor in Chief Mohammad Grader wrote Saturday. “They have practically been subject to Washington’s decisions.”

The EU is now updating a never-used 1996 law, enacted against U.S. sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Libya, known as the blocking statute. The measure seeks to ban European companies from complying with extraterritorial U.S. sanctions, allows firms to collect damages arising from American restrictions and shields them from adverse foreign-court rulings. But most experts say it isn’t legally watertight.

A revised blocking statute may help small- and midsize European companies that have few U.S. investments or business links to conduct business in Iran despite Washington’s measures, EU and Iranian officials said. Similarly, the EU plans to let the European Investment Bank, its financing arm, finance activities in Iran by opening credit lines to EU small businesses.

Yet those steps provide scant relief for Europe multinationals active in the U.S., including energy firms Total, Wintershall AG and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and shipping giant Maersk Tankers AS.

“The bite of the U.S. sanctions is bigger,” an EU diplomat said.

The EU is also deploying confidence-building measures, such as energy cooperation and financial assistance, and potentially letting EU governments facilitating oil payments to Iran via their central banks with one-off transfers. Details of such transactions are yet to be agreed and risk U.S. ire.

“We expect (Europe) to help us” get paid for oil exports, said Iranian Oil Minister Began Zanganeh said in an interview.

Mr. Trump’s decision renews challenges for Iran to meet its energy goals, including ramping up production to 4.2 million barrels a day from 3.8 million currently and attracting $200 billion in investments, Mr. Zanganeh said.

Mr. Zanganeh said Chinese and Russian energy firms’ interest in Iran’s larger oil and gas fields, coupled with smaller European firms that can invest up to $1 billion without getting tripped by U.S. sanctions, would largely alleviate the impact of sanctions. Iran last week unveiled a 10-year oil-production deal with London-based Pergas International Consortium PLC, snubbing renewed U.S. pressure.

“This extraterritorial sanction from the U.S. against Iran will have an effect” by slowing investment, Mr. Zanganeh said. “But it will not stop us.”

EU annual trade and investment with Iran nearly tripled as of last year to €21 billion ($25 billion) compared with 2015, with European icons including French car maker Renault SAand plane-builder Airbus SA joining energy firms to strike deals.

Brussels is already lobbying Washington for waivers to protect major European firms’ business interests in Iran, an EU official said. The push signals the EU’s reliance on trans-Atlantic relations to soften some of Mr. Trump’s blows against Iran and its partners, even as Europe tries to go it alone.

“For sure there are clear difficulties with the sanctions,” Mr. Canete said. Still, the EU “will engage with the United States… a key partner of the European Union and an ally.”

Write to Emre Peker at emre.peker@wsj.com

COURTESY: WSJ

Bombers in the South China Sea: Beijing Grows its Military Presence on Disputed Islands

China landed a heavy bomber in the Paracels, its latest military buildup as the world focuses on North Korea

A Chinese H-6K, like the one that landed on Woody Island last week.
A Chinese H-6K, like the one that landed on Woody Island last week. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

China’s first-ever landing of a heavy bomber on a disputed island in the South China Sea punctuates a steady buildup of military assets that has solidified Beijing’s claims to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

On Friday, China’s air force disclosed it had landed an H-6K bomber on an island in the area, which would “help improve actual combat capabilities in responding to various security threats at sea.”

Experts who track China’s military moves said the landing was on Woody Island in the Paracels, an island chain where claims by Vietnam, China and Taiwan intersect.

The landing was the latest in a series of military moves that China has carried out while global attention has been focused on the standoff with North Korea. Earlier this month, China deployed antiship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on the disputed Spratly Islands off the coast of the Philippines for the first time.

Satellite imagery also shows Beijing has installed radars and communication-jamming equipment on the Paracels and Spratlys in recent months, and that Chinese navy ships and military aircraft have made frequent visits.

Together, the deployments give China an interconnected array of radar, missile batteries and airfields that will allow it to project power over hundreds of miles of ocean where the U.S. Navy’s dominance previously faced few serious challenges. “They crossed a big threshold,” said Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute.

The militarization of the South China Sea is part of a broader push by President Xi Jinping to assert control over long-claimed territory and extend China’s defensive perimeter further into the Pacific, moves that are popular at home. As much as a third of global trade passes annually through the 1.35 million square miles of ocean, which is also thought to be rich in natural resources including oil and natural gas. China says it has historical claims to almost the entire area and that it has the right to defend those claims.

China staged its biggest military show of force in the South China Sea last month when it deployed dozens of navy vessels, including an aircraft carrier and nuclear-missile submarines, off its southern Hainan island.

The White House said this month that it has raised concerns with Beijing about the militarization of the South China Sea and warned there would be consequences. The new commander of U.S. Pacific naval forces, Adm. Philip Davidson, told a Senate committee in April that China had nearly completed military bases on its reclaimed South China Sea islands. “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States,” he said.

The Pacific Command and China’s Defense Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment.

TAIWAN

CHINA

300 miles

300 km

Paracel Islands

LAOS

Controlled by China,

claimed by Vietnam

and Taiwan

Philippine

Sea

THAILAND

Scarborough Shoal†

South

China

Sea

VIETNAM

CAMBODIA

PHILIPPINES

Spratly Islands

Gulf of

Thailand

Claimed wholly or in part

by Brunei, China, Malaysia,

Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam

TERRITORIAL CLAIMS

China

Vietnam

Philippines

BRUNEI

Malaysia

MALAYSIA

Brunei

Notes: Different countries refer to the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands by different names. China defines its claim as all waters within a ‘nine-dash’ line, based on a map issued by the Kuomintang government in 1947, but has never published coordinates for its precise location.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies (claim boundaries)

The international community has repeatedly called on China to refrain from militarization of the South China Sea. The U.S. Navy regularly challenges Chinese claims by sailing close to the disputed islands or flying over them. In 2016, the Philippines won an international arbitration that effectively invalidated Chinese claims to the sea, a ruling that China rejected.

The H-6K long-range strategic bomber deployed to Woody Island has a range that covers almost the entire South China Sea and many countries surrounding it, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, a unit of the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The bomber’s deployment is an indication of China’s progress in outfitting the islands it has built up, said Zhu Feng, executive director of Nanjing University’s China Center for Collaborative Studies of the South China Sea.

“It’s a test of how capable the facility is,” he said.

Security analysts say the deployments on Woody Island are a blueprint for the Spratly Islands, where China’s claims are disputed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines, and which it occupied and developed more recently than the Paracels. China already has built large aircraft hangars there but hasn’t deployed military fighters or bombers.

The antiship missile deployments, reported early this month by CNBC, were the first in the Spratlys. When asked about the move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said “the relevant deployment targets no one,” adding that “the deployment of necessary national defense facilities are meant to safeguard China’s sovereignty and security.”

Some claimants that depend on the South China Sea for trade and fishing have raised concerns about the unrelenting militarization. Vietnam this month called on China to withdraw military equipment and requested that Beijing “shows its responsibility in maintaining peace and stability.”

Other countries including the Philippines haven’t pressed their claims, arguing that they are unable to stand up to China’s military might. Foreign ministry officials in the Philippines and Vietnam didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“If the international community cannot get its act together, sooner or later we are going to see China get de facto control of a very important maritime highway,” said William Choong, senior fellow for Asia-Pacific Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore.

Write to Jake Maxwell Watts at jake.watts@wsj.com and Eva Dou at eva.dou@wsj.com

COURTESY: WSJ

China Rejects U.S. Target for Narrowing Trade Gap

Beijing officials offer to step up purchases, but refuse to commit to Trump administration’s specific $200 billion cut from bilateral deficit

White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, speaking at the White House on May 18, said China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by ‘at least $200 billion.’
White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, speaking at the White House on May 18, said China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by ‘at least $200 billion.’ PHOTO: CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

A last-ditch effort by the Trump administration failed to get China to accept its demand for a $200 billion cut in the U.S. bilateral trade deficit, as Chinese officials resisted committing to any specific targets after two days of contentious negotiations.

The two days of deliberations in Washington ended with both sides arguing all night on Friday over what to say in a joint statement, people briefed on the matter said. The Chinese had come willing to step up purchases of U.S. merchandise as a measure to narrow China’s $375 billion trade advantage. But U.S. negotiators pushed the Chinese delegates to approve a specific target of $200 billion in additional Chinese purchases. The Chinese refused any such target in specific dollar amounts, and the matter is now in the hands of President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping, the people said.

The two sides released a joint statement shortly after the Chinese delegation was scheduled to return home, but it made no reference to the specific purchasing amounts that the U.S. had wanted.

“Both sides agreed on meaningful increases in United States agriculture and energy exports,” the statement said, adding that “the delegations also discussed expanding trade in manufactured goods and services. There was consensus on the need to create favorable conditions to increase trade in these areas.”

Chinese officials were wary of appearing to make concessions to Washington, and insisted the statement note that any Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services are intended to “meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people.”

China on May 18 said it is dropping antidumping and antisubsidy investigations into imported U.S. sorghum.
China on May 18 said it is dropping antidumping and antisubsidy investigations into imported U.S. sorghum. PHOTO: SUE OGROCKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Beijing negotiators had come to Washington to settle a feud resulting from the Trump administration’s impatience with China’s large trade advantage. The U.S. side is also frustrated over allegations China pressures U.S. firms to transfer advanced technology and steals U.S. intellectual property. Washington has demanded China address these issues, under threat of U.S. tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese goods. Should the U.S. make good on those threats, Beijing has promised to respond with its own tariffs on U.S. imports.

The procedural steps toward implementing the first tranche of threatened U.S. tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports could be completed by as early as next week, but in the joint statement, the two sides agreed to continue talking.

Souring the mood among Chinese officials were some U.S. media reports that China had accepted a U.S. request that Beijing slash its vast merchandise trade surplus by $200 billion, an amount that would cut by more than half the U.S. trade deficit with China. The Chinese side saw those reports as a last-minute effort by Trump administration officials to pressure Beijing into a public agreement that would meet U.S. objectives.

Early Friday, Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, had told reporters that China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by “at least $200 billion.” Mr. Kudlow also said “they are meeting many of our demands. There is no deal yet, to be sure.”

While Beijing has been wary of committing to numerical targets of specific purchase amounts, it has in general offered to buy more U.S.-made autos, energy and agricultural products as a way to ease the trade tensions between the two nations that have rattled global financial and commodities markets.

The Chinese delegation was headed by Vice Premier Liu He, who impressed Washington officials, Mr. Kudlow said in a Friday interview with White House reporters, adding Mr. Liu is a “smart guy, a market guy.”

One of Washington’s central demands is that China reduce its merchandise trade surplus by at least $200 billion by the end of 2020, even though economists in both nations say the trade deficit is affected by investment and savings patterns in both nations—not trade policy. Beijing has rejected most U.S. demands in the past and has continued to hold firm.

The U.S. Agriculture Department recently asked agriculture companies to come up with a list of products whose production could be ramped up rapidly for export to China, a person following the talks said. At the same time, China put together a list of high-tech products that are barred by U.S. export controls for sale to China but are allowed by other nations.

Beijing argues that if the U.S. would ease the export controls on these items, it would purchase more from the U.S., the person briefed on the matters said. Even so, some U.S. officials believe, the additional Chinese purchases would only total $50 billion to $60 billion in the next year or two, far short of the U.S. goal.

One Chinese request is for a reprieve on China’s ZTE Corp. from crippling U.S. sanctionsover its trade with Iran and North Korea. Mr. Trump said early last week that he would work with Mr. Xi to get the telecommunications-equipment maker “back into business,” defending such a move as part of a trade deal the U.S. is negotiating with China.

However, “there is no firm agreement on ZTE as of yet,” a person familiar with the discussions said. U.S. lawmakers from both parties have criticized any effort to ease restrictions on the company, calling ZTE a security threat, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) tweeting on Saturday: “If we don’t wake up & start treating this as a national security issue, China is going to win again.”

Settling the trade fight is taking on a degree of urgency as the tensions start hurting businesses in both countries. U.S. goods, including sorghum, soybeans and cars, have faced growing hurdles when entering China, while a U.S. order banning American companies from selling components to ZTE not only threatens the survival of the company but also that of other state-owned Chinese companies.

Responding to Mr. Trump’s promise of a reprieve for ZTE, Beijing has made a number of conciliatory gestures. China’s antitrust regulators had delayed for months U.S. private-equity firm Bain Capital’s $18 billion deal for Toshiba Corp.’s memory-chip unit, but on Thursday, the Japanese firm said regulators had allowed the deal to proceed. Chinese regulators also promised this week to restart their review of U.S. chip maker Qualcomm Inc.’s bid for NXP Semiconductors NV.

China has also offered to hold back penalties on a variety of U.S. agricultural products it announced in early April as retaliation for U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum exports. China is a top buyer of U.S. farm products. On Friday, China’s Commerce Ministry announced an end of its antidumping investigation into imported U.S. sorghum.

Write to Bob Davis at bob.davis@wsj.com and Lingling Wei at lingling.wei@wsj.com

Royal wedding 2018: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle marry

 May 19 at 12:46 PM 
 2:52
Top moments from the royal wedding

Here are key moments from the wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and America’s Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19. 

  • Britain’s Prince Harry and America’s Meghan Markle are now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
  • Queen Elizabeth hosted a lunch reception at Windsor Castle for about 600 guests. Elton John performed.
  • More than 100,000 people are estimated to have lined the wedding procession route.
  • The wedding dress was designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller, the first female artistic director at Givenchy.

KISS | SERMON | DRESS | HARRY ARRIVES


8:14 a.m.: The procession

The procession! The moment that many in Windsor have been waiting for — in some cases, for days — a chance to clap (misty) eyes on the newlyweds. An estimated 100,000 well-wishers have lined the streets, including the tree-lined road known as the Long Walk, to watch the Duke and Duchess of Sussex pass by. The procession is expected to last about 25 minutes.

“It was spectacular,” Jayne Ralph, 50, a retail manager from Vancouver, said of the moment the newlyweds passed by. Though she suggested it would have been nice if other royals could have driven by and offered a wee wave.

The royal wedding by the numbers
200 Amalfi lemons went into the wedding cake
16 feet of silk tulle made up the bride’s veil
10 pint-sized bridesmaids and page boys participated in the ceremony
175 years since the was another Duke of Sussex
7 charities were chosen by the couple for donations in lieu of gifts
5,000 members of the media received credentials

Gallery: The most stunning hats at the royal wedding


8:11 a.m.: The kiss

 0:44
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle share first kiss as married couple

After saying their vows, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shared a kiss in front of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle May 19. 

They pass through the floral arch. They pause, and Harry leans in and Meghan leans in and the couple kisses.

They board the Ascot Landau carriage. Prince Charles waves goodbye. The long wedding dress train is addressed. The father-and-son Windsor Grey horses begin to pull them out into the town…

You hear a roar.


8:07 a.m.: God save the Queen

Everyone rises! And belts out the British national anthem.

“God save our gracious Queen,

Long live our noble Queen,

God save the Queen…”

As soon as Meghan Markle becomes a British citizen, as she plans to be, Elizabeth II will be not only her grandmum-in-law but her sovereign.


7:40 a.m.: The vows

Prince Harry removes the veil. (Owen Humphreys/AFP/Getty Images)

Markle repeats the vow. “I Meghan, take you, Harry, to be my husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…”

The rings are exchanged.

Prince Harry places the ring on Meghan Markle’s finger. (Jonathan Brady/pool photo via AP)

Read more: From Henry VIII to Meghan Markle, how the Church of England has shifted on divorce


7:37: The choir

There’s a real strain of Americaness, of the African American experience, in this service.

Now comes Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir singing the classic “Stand By Me,” by Ben E. King, and once upon a time covered by John Lennon.


7:34 a.m.: The sermon

 1:21
Meet Bishop Curry, the man who stole the show at the Royal wedding

Rev. Michael Curry delivered the sermon during the Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The sermon was a nod to the African American experience. 

The Most Reverend Michael Curry performs a rousing address.

Bishop Curry is the first African American to preside over the Episcopal Church.

“There’s power in love,” he tells the couple, who are seated and holding hands.

“We were made by a power of love and our lives were meant to be lived with that love,” he says.

Playing off the style of a classic American black preacher, he does an amazing, theatrical discourse on the power of love — to heal wounds, to end poverty, to guide government. On BBC, there are cut-aways to the look on the prim and proper faces of royals.

As he closes, he says has to close, “we gotta get ya’ll married.”

“Well, that was forceful…,” says the BBC announcer.

Read the fiery sermon at the royal wedding


7:16 a.m.: Princess Diana’s sister

 1:15
Princess Diana’s sister reads at royal wedding

The Lady Jane Fellowes, the late Princess Diana’s older sister, read a passage from the Song of Solomon at Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle May 19. 

The Lady Jane Fellowes, the late Princess Diana’s older sister, reads a classic wedding passage from the Bible’s Song of Solomon.

“Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave…”

And some more bits about flashes of fire, a raging flame and unquenchable love.

Read more: Princess Diana won’t be forgotten at the royal wedding. Her sons still mourn her death.


7:13 a.m.: “The Declarations”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in St George’s Chapel (Dominic Lipinski/Pool via REUTERS)

The guests are standing and led in “The Declarations.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury says:

“First, I am required to ask anyone present who knows a reason why these person may not lawfully marry, to declare it now.”

This is always an awkward moment.

There is silence. Meghan Markle smiles.

Harry and Meghan also declare their love, and faithfulness — but these are not yet the upcoming vows.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. (Jonathan Brady/AFP/Getty Images)

7:07 a.m.: Markle walks down the aisle

The service begins with a musical fanfare by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry. As Markle begins to process down the aisle, the orchestra plays George Frederick Handel’s “Eternal Source of Life Divine,” sung by soprano Elin Manahan Thomas.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle watch as the bridesmaids and page boys walk down the aisle. (UK Pool/Sky News via AP)

7:03 a.m.: Inside the chapel

Markle’s mother Doria Ragland has been seated. Harry and William are sitting side-by-side inside the chapel gate, Harry looking slightly nervous. The bridesmaids and page boys arrive, looking cute as heck.

Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwell, Camilla Parker Bowles, enter the chapel.

Charles will walk Markle part-way down the aisle.

Prince Charles walks Meghan Markle down the aisle. (UK Pool/Sky News via AP)


7:00 a.m.: The reveal of the dress

 0:35
First glimpse of Meghan Markle’s wedding dress

Actress Meghan Markle arrived at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle for her wedding to Prince Harry May 19. 

Meghan Markle’s wedding dress was designed by British designer Clare Waight Keller, the first female artistic director at the French fashion house Givenchy.

Markle and Keller worked closely together on the design, we are told.

The fashion house tweeted that the dress was “inspired by all 12 signs of the Zodiac, the Zodiac Signs collection features artisanally carved rings and earrings to convey the wearer’s character.”

Here’s the verdict from Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan:

The dress isn’t everything but it is a lot. And the Givenchy haute couture gown chosen by Meghan Markle for her marriage to Prince Harry told a story about contemporary romance, geopolitical history  and the institution into which she has married. But mostly, most importantly, it offered a bit of insight into the bride herself.

The sleek white gown, with its six strategically placed seams, was stitched from a heavy silk with a subtle sheen. A simple bateau neckline gracefully framed her face. The body of the dress subtly outlined her waist and flowed into a full train. But what was most noticeable were all the things that the dress was not. It was not a Hollywood red carpet statement. It was not a Disney princess fantasy. It was not a mountain of camouflaging tulle and chiffon.

The dress was free of extravagant embellishments. It was not covered in yards of delicate lace. It did not have a single ruffle — no pearls or crystals. Its beauty was in its architectural lines and its confident restraint. It was a romantic dress, but one that suggested a clear-eyed understanding that a real-life romance is not the stuff of fairy tales. The dress was a backdrop; it was in service to the woman.

Read more: The dress was beautiful, but the woman wearing it was unforgettable


6:42 a.m.: Princes Harry and William arrive

Prince Harry arrives with his brother, Prince William. (Gareth Fuller/AFP/Getty Images)

The red-bearded Prince Harry marches in a happy gait toward the chapel’s West Door, alongside his best man, his older brother and second in line to the throne, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

Both Harry and Will are wearing the uniforms of the Blues and Royals.

Bespoke, cut and sewn by hand, Harry’s frockcoat is made of blue doeskin, in a single breasted style, with figured braiding. He is wearing his Pilots’ Wings and a medal honoring his service as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.

Next up: the dress reveal. In the press room at Windsor, of course, we know what it is. But there are armed guards outside.


6:30 a.m.: Meghan Markle is on her way

Meghan Markle rides toward Windsor Castle (Darren Staples/REUTERS)

Meghan Markle and her mum, Doria Ragland, have left nearby Cliveden House for the drive to Windsor Castle. The pair are being driven in a well-waxed vintage Rolls-Royce Phantom IV. Through the window, there’s a glimpse of the dress. It is white. Details to follow. On her veiled head, Markle wears a diamond bandeau.


6:28 a.m.: Move over Princess Beatrice: There’s a new hat queen in town.

(Photo by Karla Adam)

One of the true delights of any British wedding is watching out for British hats. As expected, there has been some stiff competition on the streets of Windsor today. But this hat, which has a swan perched on top, stands out.

Debbie Hoover, from Amarillo, Texas, says she has always been “fascinated” by the royal family, and, for her 50th birthday, decided to take in the royal wedding festivities. She had heard that Queen Elizabeth II owned all of the swans in Britain, so searched for a swan hat online. “I was hoping it would get some attention,” she says. “It sure has.”


6:04 a.m.: Serena Williams primps

A couple hours before the wedding, tennis star Serena Williams posted photographs of herself on Instagram getting ready for the day — wrapped in a towel, having a facial.

She showed off the results a minute ago.

 0:43
Serena Williams attends royal wedding

Tennis star Serena Williams arrived at the British royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor May 19 with her husband, Alexis Ohanian. 


5:55 a.m.: Elton John is here

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Elton John at the royal wedding

Elton John attended the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle May 19 at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. 

Elton John strolls by. It is rumored he may perform at one of the two receptions to follow the wedding service. (He sang “Candle in the Wind” at the funeral for Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana.) Inside the chapel, the press pool cameras are lingering on the Clooneys, especially Amal, in a lemony gold dress and hat. Almost all the women are dressed in hats. The men are divided: some in suits, others in traditional morning coats with vests.


5:43 a.m.: Inside the castle walls

(Photo by William Booth)

Scott Ross is a leader of the Royal Air Force cadets. He and his wife, Nicola, drove down from Scotland to take a seat on the castle lawn. They’re among the 2,640 members of the public invited inside the walls. A 10-hour drive? “It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Ross says. He notes that it will be a long time before Prince William and Catherine’s little kids are old enough to wed.


5:30 a.m.: The Clooneys and the Beckhams

 0:35
George and Amal Clooney arrive for royal wedding

Actor George Clooney arrived at the British royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor May 19 with his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. 

Just seeing the Clooneys now — the actor George, the human rights lawyer Amal — getting off the bus and walking to the chapel entrance. Right behind them are David and Victoria Beckham, the soccer star and his former Spice Girl.


5:05 a.m. The rings

Kensington Palace just told us hacks:

Harry and Meghan chose Cleave and Company to make their wedding rings. Markle’s ring “has been fashioned from a piece of Welsh Gold, gifted by Her Majesty The Queen. Prince Harry’s ring will be a Platinum Band with a textured finish.”


4:58 a.m. Prayer for the day

The Church of England has let us know the special prayer for the day:

God of love,

send your blessings upon Harry and Meghan,

and all who are joined in marriage,

that, rejoicing in your will

and continuing under your protection,

they may both live and grow

in your love all their days,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.


4:47 a.m.: Oprah makes her entrance.

 1:39
Oprah arrives at the royal wedding

Oprah Winfrey arrived at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle with Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle May 19. 

Among the invited guests now entering the chapel is global media personalty Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah is wearing lilac dress with sunglasses and a large hat. She is seated in the A-List section in the chapel’s quire.


4:39 a.m.: The scene at St. George’s Chapel

(Photo by William Booth)

You say “chapel,” you may think small, intimate. But St George’s Chapel, completed by Henry VIII in 1528, is a soaring masterpiece — of what we are told is a classic of the “perpendicular gothic” style. The Washington Post and colleagues were given a quick peek insider for “atmospherics.” The floral arrangements are a wild meadow of aromatic whites: mayflowers and dusky cranebills. The towering arrangements were designed by the florist Philippa Craddock as a “cascading hedge-grow.” Smells heavenly.


4:18 a.m.: Does this woman look like Meghan Markle?

(Photo by Karla Adam)

That’s what one person thought. He approached Layla Morris, 38, who works in credit control, and asked if she was the actress from “Suits.” As a fan of “Suits,” herself, Morris was amused. “I watched all of Suits. Meghan stood out. She as the girl you wanted to be,” she says.

She lives 90 minutes away and brought her children, 7 and 3, to Windsor to soak up the atmosphere. “They are very excited, but can’t understand why they are not invited.”


4:08 a.m.: Not everyone is royal wedding mad

Let’s be clear: Much of this city is royal wedding crazy. The dogs are wearing Union Jack-themed scarves, for heaven’s sake. But venture off the main streets around Windsor Castle, and you’ll find residents whose thoughts on the wedding can best be described as meh.

“It’s just another day. I don’t see what all the fuss is about,” says Leon Johnson, 34, a gas engineer who is pushing a buggy near water fountains that barefoot children were gleefully running through.

He wishes the royal couple well, for sure, and says that Markle’s background “broke the mold” of what it meant to be a royal. (She’s a biracial American divorcee with an established career.) But he says that the vendors selling royal souvenirs on the main streets around the castle are “a money-making scam.”

Will he least turn on the telly to catch a glimpse of the global spectacle on his doorstep?

He might “take a little peak,” he says, but stresses he wouldn’t linger long. “There is football on!”

Today is the FA Cup final, with Chelsea playing Manchester United at Wembley Stadium in London.


4:03 a.m.: “It means a lot in terms of race relations”

Vanessa King, 65, from Florida (left), and her friend Marzy Bedford-Billinghurst, 60, from Washington. (Photo by Karla Adam)

Marzy Bedford-Billinghurst, 60, an American who grew up in Britain and now lives in Washington, says that once she heard about the wedding, as a black woman who has biracial children, she decided she had to come.

“It means a lot in terms of race relations,” she says. That the fact that the royal family, “of all entities, would modernize themselves and embrace this woman of color because the prince loves her — that just means so much to me. I’m just overjoyed. I think she’s just wonderful, fabulous and I’m just so excited.”


3:52 a.m.: It’s five o’clock somewhere

(Photo by Karla Adam)

Craig Skinner, 28, (left) and Alex Cox, 28, (right) are sipping gin and tonics. When asked what they are drinking, Cox responds: “Want one?”

This is Cox’s second royal wedding, but the first one he’s watching from the ground. At William and Kate’s wedding in 2011, he was one of those riding a horse as part of the Household Cavalry, a personal escort for the royal family. “It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of stress,” he said, noting this time he is happy to just enjoy “all the good British pomp and ceremony” as a spectator.


3:46 a.m.: The scene from sun-kissed Windsor

Windsor is a gorgeous city, with Windsor Castle, the queen’s weekend residence, towering dramatically over the scene. Today, the sun-kissed city looks something like a festival: There are bubble machines, dogs wearing scarves, people of all ages wearing fake crowns. Many people camped out overnight in order to get the best view of the carriage procession.

Street vendors are hawking British flags and American flags. There are ladies with ridiculously fabulous hats that look like small UFOs. The local Marks & Spencer has (temporarily?) changed its name to Markle & Sparkle. A local pub has permanently changed its name to the “Prince Harry.” If Harry & Meghan-themed merchandise is your thing — everything from tea-towels to life-sized cardboard cutouts of the smiling couple — this is the place to be.


3:44 a.m.: Who has traveled furthest for this wedding?

Peter McFarlane, 52, a health aide from Australia could be a contender for that title. We have met people who have flown in from the United States, Canada and Jamaica, but McFarlane hopped on a “27-hour bloody flight” from Australia to be at — or nearish — the nuptials. He slept on the street on Friday night, where it was “bloody freezy, this bloody English summer,” in hopes of keeping his prime position to see the carriage procession.

He wanted to come in person since, he figured, this was the last royal wedding for some time. “I had to make the effort,” he said, waving Union Jack flags in each hand.


3:23 a.m.: Inside the castle walls

(Photo by William Booth)

Harry and Meghan invited 2,640 “regular” folk to attend the wedding and watch from the gardens inside the Windsor Castle walls. These guests represent charities the couple, especially Harry, has supported over the years — like Surfers against Sewage, and environmental and veterans groups.

Alan Scott, 69, from Lincolnshire has been involved in British Scouting for 45 years. He and his partner set up lawn chairs outside St George’s Chapel. “Splendid!” Scott said. “I think it’s amazing that we are all invited.”

Scott brought a picnic hamper of pork pies. “And some champagne,” said his partner, Julie Frisby.


2:41 a.m.: Paper crowns and plastic tiaras

The streets of Windsor town are lined with Harry and Meghan fans, wearing paper crowns and plastic tiaras. Some have spent the night camped out.

Security is tight. Specialist squads of police hefting automatic rifles stand sentry by the statute of the late Queen Victoria outside the Henry VIII gate to Windsor Castle.

Vendors selling royal wedding  “tat” — British slang for souvenirs — are doing brisk business.


2:30 a.m.: Welcome to our live coverage

Martin Oates, senior carriage restorer, polishes the Ascot Landau carriage that will transport the couple around Windsor. (Victoria Jones/Pool via AP)

You want regal pageantry, gilded spectacle, the royal Ascot Landau carriage pulled by a pair of father-and-son Windsor Grey horses? The Archbishop of Canterbury bedecked in his robes, the St. George’s Chapel Choir belting out the choral anthems to the rafters? Then good morning to you.

Britain’s Prince Harry is set to wed American actress Meghan Markle, and they’ll be treating us to full-on fairy tale, complete with a pint-size prince and princess as page boy and bridesmaid.

Markle will be driven from Cliveden House manor to the medieval masterwork of St. George’s Chapel, within the walls of Windsor Castle, where she will be warmly welcomed by a polite backdrop of 1,200 invited do-gooders from favored charities.

There will be the Reveal of the Dress. The Kensington Palace PR squad will blast the details. Then Prince Charles, Harry’s father, will walk his future daughter-in-law down the aisle. (Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, has been sidelined by heart problems and media-induced stress.)

Bishop Michael Curry, the first African American to preside over the Episcopal Church, is to deliver a sermon. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will lead the couple in vows from the Book of Common Prayer.

Immediately afterward, the couple, who will be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will parade by carriage through the streets of Windsor town, where as many as 100,000 Brits and foreign visitors will be wearing outrageous hats and waving Union Jacks and the Stars and Stripes to celebrate the ultimate in special relationships: Harry’s royal marriage to a California girl.

We’ll have live coverage. Follow our updates here.

 1:45
Bubbles, flags and dogs in scarves: Scenes from the day before the the royal wedding

Post reporter Karla Adam spoke to some of the royal wedding fans who turned out in the town near London the day before the ceremony was set to take place. 

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