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China makes diplomatic protest to North Korea over nuke test

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China said on Monday it had lodged an official protest with its ally North Korea following Pyongyang’s largest-ever nuclear weapons test.

The massive explosion, which Pyongyang claimed was a miniaturised hydrogen bomb, has put the region on edge and raised questions about how Beijing will respond to its neighbour’s latest provocation.

China “launched stern representations with the person in charge of the DPRK embassy in China”, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing, using an acronym for the North’s official name.

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“China opposes the DPRK in carrying out nuclear missile development and we are committed to denuclearisation of the peninsula. This position is well-known and the DPRK also knows this position perfectly well,” he said.

“The DPRK must be very clear about that, so we hope all parties — especially the DPRK side — could exercise restraint and refrain from further escalating the tensions.”

Geng did not say whether Beijing, which has long been hesitant to put excessive economic pressure on Pyongyang, would support further sanctions on the regime.

North Korea’s announcement of Sunday’s test brought strong condemnation from the international community.

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The blast was five times larger than the last test a year ago, according to South Korea, and could be felt in Chinese cities hundreds of kilometres from the North’s border.

Beijing is Pyongyang’s only significant ally and crucial trade partner. It is considered a critical player in efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its weapons programmes.

It has expressed strong condemnation of Sunday’s test, carried out hours before Chinese president Xi Jinping was set to deliver a major speech at a gathering of BRICS nations in southern China.

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The US has pushed China to take a tougher stance on North Korea.

On Sunday US President Donald Trump tweeted that he was “considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea”.

Geng bristled at the suggestion.

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“What is definitely unacceptable to us is that on the one hand we work so hard to peacefully resolve this issue, and on the other hand our interests are sanctioned and jeopardised,” he said.

“This should not be the case and this is not fair.”

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Ukraine blows up key Trump defense: Top officials knew of military aid freeze before it became public

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Top Ukrainian officials were alerted in early August that $391 million in U.S. military aid had been frozen as President Donald Trump sought to pressure the country to investigate Joe Biden.

That undercuts the president's latest defense arguing that the foreign ally couldn't have felt pressured because Ukraine was not yet aware that the aid had been frozen, reported the New York Times.

Former Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor told Congress on Tuesday that the freeze was directly related to Trump's demand for an announcement that Biden was under investigation.

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Trump attorney shocks judge by claiming president could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue: ‘Nothing could be done’

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William Consovoy, an attorney for President Donald Trump, argued in court on Wednesday that President Donald Trump is immune from prosecution if he literally shoots someone on Fifth Avenue.

In a hearing before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, Consovoy took the position that Trump is immune from a subpoena for his financial records, which are being investigated by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

At one point, Judge Denny Chin asked Consovoy about what he called the "Fifth Avenue example," referring to a Trump claim that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

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‘Not a pretty picture’: Second-ranking GOP senator inches closer to impeachment after Bill Taylor testimony

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The second-ranking Republican senator sounded an alarm over testimony by the former Ukraine ambassador.

GOP Whip John Thune (R-SD) reacted to testimony Tuesday by veteran diplomat Bill Taylor, who told lawmakers that President Donald Trump directed efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden in exchange for congressionally approved military aid.

"The picture coming out based on the reporting we’ve seen is not a good one," Thune told reporters Wednesday, "but I would say until we have a process that allows to see this with full transparency it’s pretty hard to come to hard and fast conclusions."

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