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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- North Korea is threatening to cancel its upcoming summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump over South Korea-U.S.military drills.North Korea has also canceled high-level talks with South Korea that were scheduled for Wednesday local time over those same drills."If the U.S. and the South Korean government thinks that the improvement of North-South relationship and the U.S. talk made possible by our leading and generous efforts and actions as a pardon to open play-with-fire fuss like this war drill anytime, there is no greater misjudgment than that," North Korean state media agency KCNA said in a dispatch."We have no choice but to stop the North-South high-level talk scheduled for the 16th under the ugly circumstances where there is indiscreet North-invading war fuss and fight rampage," KCNA said. "... The U.S. must contemplate on the fate of the scheduled Korea-U.S. head meeting with the provocative military situation created with the South Korean government."We will keep sharp eyes on the U.S. and the South Korean government's future attitude."The summit between the American and North Korean leader was first announced in March and Trump tweeted the scheduled date -- June 12 -- and location -- Singapore -- last week.Three Americans that were held in North Korea for more than a year each were released last week, in what was seen by many as a gesture of goodwill before the scheduled summit.The U.S. has not heard from North Korea and is still planning for the summit to go ahead, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said."What we have to go on is what Kim Jong Un has said before, that he understands and appreciates the importance to the United States of having these joint exercises, the Republic of Korea has as well," Nauert said. "We've received no formal or even informal notification of anything."As the U.S. has done on multiple previous occasions, Nauert defended the exercises as "legal," "planned well, well in advance" and "not provocative."Col. Rob Manning, a Department of Defense spokesperson, said in a statement the exercises are "part of the ROK-U.S. Alliances’ routine, annual training program to maintain a foundation of military readiness.""The purpose of the training is to enhance the ROK-U.S. alliance’s ability to defend the ROK and enhance interoperability and readiness. While we will not discuss specifics, the defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed," Manning said.Separately, a senior State Department official told reporters the U.S. and South Korea were in touch "a short while ago," but referred questions on that to South Korea. That official confirmed that there's been no contact from North Korea.In a statement, the White House said: “We are aware of the South Korean media report. The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to coordinate closely with our allies.”
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senators on both sides of the aisle are urging President Donald Trump not to go easy on Chinese telecom company ZTE after friendly tweets over the past few days suggested he’s willing to lift sanctions on the firm.A group of 32 Senate Democrats urged Trump Tuesday to maintain a seven-year ban on ZTE’s purchase of American-made components critical to the company’s production – a penalty put in place after the company sold products to Iran and North Korea and then failed to penalize officials as it had told the U.S. it would.“America’s national security must not be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations,” the senators wrote in a letter.But in a series of tweets, Trump suggested exactly that: ZTE’s status with the U.S. is, in fact, part of larger economic talks. Several outlets reported Tuesday that the U.S. is discussing lifting the ZTE penalties to avoid agricultural sanctions China is preparing to impose on the U.S.Two days ago Trump raised alarms by saying he was explicitly trying to help ZTE get back into business with the U.S.Later Sunday, however, the White House walked back that directive to the Commerce Department, saying in a statement, “President Trump expects Secretary Ross to exercise his independent judgment, consistent with applicable laws and regulations, to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts.”In addition to the 32 Senate Democrats who penned the letter, Republicans are also concerned that Trump is giving away too much.Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has written a bill banning the U.S. government from contracting with ZTE or another China telecom, Huawei, used Trump’s preferred mode of communication to criticize Trump’s stated interest in easing penalties on ZTE.In an interview with ABC, Wyden stressed that the link between the ZTE softening and the Trump Organization deal was only “possible.” Despite concern from both sides of the aisle about possible concessions to ZTE, the issue did not come up during Trump’s meeting with Senate Republicans on Tuesday.But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he does want to get more information from the White House about the potential arrangement.“I'm concerned about that. I'm glad that China's helping us but allowing them to have sort of an entree in our technological world like this bothers me,” Graham said.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli troops killed two Palestinians and injured hundreds at the Gaza boundary fence on Tuesday as residents buried dozens of Palestinians who were shot and killed by Israeli forces a day earlier, Palestinian authorities said.As the U.S. opened its new embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, Palestinians saw the deadliest day since the Gaza war in 2014. Israeli forces fired tear gas and live fire at Palestinian protesters, killing at least 60, including eight children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than 2,700 Palestinians were injured, the ministry said.Israel and the U.S. blamed Hamas, which rules Gaza, for the deaths, saying that Israel was defending its border.“We started to line up altogether and then walk forward steps together. Then all I saw was smoke everywhere and people screaming,“ Wafa al-Udaini, a resident of Gaza who participated in Monday’s protests by the fence, told ABC News via text message.Her cousin and her neighbor were killed by Israeli troops during the protest, she said.She attended funerals Tuesday, and she says she plans to go back to the fence to demonstrate again on Wednesday.Gaza was calmer on Tuesday, which for Palestinians marks what they refer to as "Nakba Day" -- marking what they call the "catastrophe" of their expulsion when Israel was created 70 years ago. Prayers were followed by parades of Palestinians carrying flag-wrapped bodies high above their heads, chanting on the way to the cemetery. Gunshots were fired in the air.Near the boundary fence, 51-year-old Nasser Ghurab and 18-year-old Bilal Hussein were killed by Israeli forces, said Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry.Palestinians have been protesting for the past six weeks as part of the “March of Return,” a demonstration calling for the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to areas that are today part of Israel.Palestinian and Turkish leaders called Monday’s killings a “massacre” while the U.K. and France urged Israel to show restraint. The U.N.’s secretary-general said he was “profoundly alarmed” by the number of Palestinians killed.“I am profoundly alarmed and concerned by the sharp escalation of violence and the number of Palestinians killed and injured in the Gaza protests,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. "It is imperative that everyone shows the utmost restraint to avoid further loss of life."At an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley denied that Monday’s deaths had anything to do with the U.S. decision to open its embassy in Jerusalem.“Rather, the violence comes from those who reject the existence of the state of Israel in any location,” Haley said. “The location of the embassy has no bearing on the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders... It does not undermine the prospects for peace in any way.”
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  • Ben Birchall - WPA Pool / Getty Images(LONDON) -- Meghan Markle is pleading with her father to still attend her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19 after he reportedly said he no longer wants to walk her down the aisle at St. George's Chapel following a newspaper report in the U.K.'s Mail on Sunday that her father was involved staging photographs with a paparazzi photographer. Markle is reportedly said to be devastated at the prospect that her father might not attend her wedding.Kensington Palace issued a statement Monday evening in the wake of the scandal."This is a deeply personal moment for Ms. Markle in the days before her wedding," the statement read. "She and Prince Harry ask again for understanding and respect to be extended to Mr. Markle in this difficult situation."It is understood that Kensington Palace was caught completely off guard after Thomas Markle Sr., 73, told TMZ that he doesn’t want to cause further embarrassment to his daughter and the royal family, and thought it best he avoid his daughter's wedding.Markle Sr. was due to meet his future son in law for the first time this week and was due to be introduced to Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William and Princess Kate also ahead of the wedding, a meeting that could be particularly awkward given the scandal.Markle's father was accused over the weekend by a British newspaper of staging photos for paparazzi near his home in Mexico.After Markle Sr. faced backlash for the photos, he spoke to TMZ and said he no longer plans to walk Markle down the aisle at St. George's Chapel on Saturday because he "doesn't want to embarrass the Royal Family or his daughter."TMZ also reports that Markle Sr. suffered a heart attack less than a week ago, but checked himself out of the hospital in order to attend his daughter's wedding.The Mail on Sunday, a British media outlet, published photos and a surveillance video that it claims show Markle Sr., a former lighting director in Hollywood, staging photos in Rosarito, Mexico, where he currently lives.He was photographed reading articles online about his daughter’s wedding to Harry, exercising and scanning over a book titled “Images of Britain.”One photo showed Markle Sr. allegedly being measured for his wedding suit by a party store assistant who the Mail claims was tipped $15 by Markle Sr. for participating in the photo.The photos were taken less than two months before the wedding and reportedly sold for nearly $140,000 by the paparazzi agency who took the photographs.Markle Sr. and his ex-wife, Doria Ragland, Markle’s mom, are the only two of Markle’s family members invited to her wedding. Markle and Harry will wed before an expected 600 guests at St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle.Markle Sr.’s daughter from another marriage, Samantha Markle, took the blame for the allegedly staged paparazzi photos.“The bad press over my father doing staged photos is my fault,” she tweeted. “The media was unfairly making him look bad so I suggested he do positive photos for his benefit and the benefit of the royal family. We had no idea he would be taken advantage of. It was not for money.”TMZ reports that Markle Sr. felt the photographs look "stupid and hammy."Harry, 33, spoke out last year in a BBC documentary about the pain he felt knowing the role of the paparazzi in the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in a 1997 Paris car crash."I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is the fact that the people that chased her into the tunnel were the same people that were taking photographs of her while she was still dying in the back seat of the car,” Harry said.
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  • Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WINDSOR, England) -- This week marks the final countdown for the team of royal chefs and staff at Windsor Castle, who are meticulously preparing a lavish evening for hundreds of guests at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on Saturday.Six hundred people are invited to the wedding ceremony, and Queen Elizabeth will host a daytime reception at St George’s Hall at the Castle.The team of around 30 royal chefs, led by Mark Flanagan, are already busy in the kitchens at Windsor.He talked to Sky News about how his staff is preparing for the big event.“We’re breaking into smaller teams, getting all the asparagus peeled, the vegetables prepared, that sort of thing in advance. So on the actual day it’s just the minimal amount of cooking and maximum amount of presentation time,” he explained.The royal couple have also been heavily involved in the planning of the event.“They’ve tasted everything, they’ve been involved in every detail. We’ve been really fortunate with the date of the wedding…all the British vegetables are just coming into season. The couple wanted us to make sure that we used all of the local, seasonal produce as much as possible throughout their menu,” he said.Added pastry chef Selwyn Stoby: “You don’t get many opportunities in your lifetime to do a royal wedding so this is very very special. The care, the attention, the details and everything - it really is very exciting.”The kitchens at Windsor Castle are thought to be the oldest working kitchens in the country, with a history stretching back to the 14th Century and the reign of Edward III.More than 30 monarchs later, they continue to serve the royal family under Queen Elizabeth II.Following the wedding ceremony, a more intimate evening dinner, hosted by Prince Charles, will take place at the nearby Frogmore House, with a different catering company providing the menu.
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