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Obama discusses Iran and North Korea during call with China’s Xi

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By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday he wants U.S.-Chinese relations defined by more cooperation and a constructive management of differences during a phone call in which Iran and North Korea were discussed.

Escalating tensions between China and some countries in the South China Sea and with Japan in the East China Sea, as well as U.S. charges over hacking and Internet spying, have provoked anger on both sides of the Pacific in recent months.

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A White House statement about the Obama-Xi conversation did not get into the details of U.S.-Chinese tensions. It came after two days of talks in Beijing that were an opportunity for the world’s two biggest economies to lower tensions after months of bickering over a host of issues.

Obama and Xi have tried to develop a working relationship over the past year, meeting for two days in June 2013 at a retreat in the California desert and, more recently, chatting in March at The Hague on the fringes of an international summit.

However, their talks have done little to resolve festering issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The statement suggested the two leaders would seek to work together when they can despite their disagreements.

“The president reaffirmed his commitment to developing a relationship defined by increased practical cooperation and constructive management of differences,” the White House said.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said Xi told Obama that the two countries should continue to meet each other half way and keep strengthening cooperation on key issues like climate change.

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Obama told Xi he looked forward to seeing him at an Asia-Pacific summit in Beijing in November.

The White House statement said Obama stressed to Xi the need for communication and coordination on actions with China to ensure North Korea meets its denuclearization commitments.

China is North Korea’s only major ally.

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Last week, North Korea launched short-range missiles that were in defiance of a U.N. ban that prohibits Pyongyang from using or procuring ballistic missile technology that could be used in its nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile programs.

Xinhua said only that the two leaders “exchanged views” on the situation on the Korean peninsula.

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The two leaders also reviewed efforts to persuade Iran to agree to a nuclear agreement by a July 20 deadline. The White House said the two leaders “discussed the need for continued U.S.-China cooperation” in the ongoing international negotiations between Iran and six world powers.

“The president underscored the need for Iran to take the steps necessary to assure the international community that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful,” the statement said.

China and Iran have close energy and trade ties, and Beijing has repeatedly resisted U.S.-led demands to impose tougher economic sanctions on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions. Iran says it is enriching uranium for peaceful energy purposes only.

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Xi said that China was willing to work with the United States to ensure a comprehensive, lasting solution, despite the difficulties that still needed to be overcome, Xinhua reported.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Nick Macfie)


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GOP lawmaker mocked after whining Adam Schiff wouldn’t let her break impeachment hearing rules

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During the public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump this Friday, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) attempted to direct a line of questions to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, but was interrupted by Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who informed Devin Nunes (R-CA) that "under the house resolute 660, you are not allowed to yield time except to minority counsel."

As Stefanik continued to try to speak, Schiff repeatedly cut her off. "The gentlewoman will suspend," Schiff said as he swung the gavel. "You're not recognized."

"This is the fifth time you've interrupted members of Congress -- duly elected members of Congress," Stefanik protested.

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France to host Putin, Zelensky in bid to end Ukraine conflict

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Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet his Ukranian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in Paris on December 9 for their first face-to-face encounter, seeking to end the half-decade conflict in Ukraine, the French presidency said Friday.

The leaders will join French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the four-way summit aimed at resolving the conflict in the east of Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists have declared breakaway regions, the Elysee Palace said.

Macron, who has been spearheading a drive for peace in Ukraine, had hoped to host the summit in September but it was held up by numerous obstacles that highlighted the difficulty of resolving the conflict.

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Feds now probing Giuliani’s links to Ukrainian natural gas projects – and if he profited from them

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Federal investigators are now probing the ties of the President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, into Ukrainian energy projects, and if he stood to gain financially in a business venture headed by his two "henchmen" who are now in jail.

The two associates infamously aided Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine to launch investigations into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden in an attempt to assist President Donald Trump's re-election efforts, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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