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North Korean state media claims Kim Jong-Un skipped meeting with Pompeo to inspect potatoes

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may have been too busy visiting a potato farm to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Pyongyang’s state media implied Tuesday.

The North’s state media normally lead their television bulletins and front pages with Kim’s doings, but a seven-day absence from the headlines, including during Pompeo’s visit, had prompted speculation on his whereabouts among Korea-watchers.

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The mystery was resolved Tuesday when the official news agency KCNA put out no fewer than four reports on his trip to far-flung Samjiyon county, on the border with China, most of them far more detailed than its usual accounts of his “field guidance” visits.

At the Junghung potato farm, it said, he instructed staff not only to plant high-yield varieties but also to “introduce various species good to taste and ensure the quality of processed potato foods in production and thus raise the quality of potato production”.

He praised officials of the county, which is close to Mount Paektu, the spiritual home of the Korean people and claimed by Pyongyang’s propaganda to be the actual birthplace of his father and predecessor Kim Jong Il.

It was “a sacred land of the revolution”, Kim said, which authorities were seeking to build “into a model of the country and fairyland of communism”.

KCNA did not say when the trip was made, but Kim Yong Chol, Kim’s powerful right-hand man, told a visiting Seoul official last week that the leader was away for a trip to a “local region.”

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Pompeo was in Pyongyang from Friday to Saturday to try to flesh out a bare bones denuclearisation deal made during last month’s historic summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

The White House had said earlier Pompeo would meet with the leader, but the encounter did not materialise and the top US diplomat only met with Kim Yong Chol.

Pompeo insisted the talks were making progress but as soon as he left, the North’s foreign ministry berated him over his “unilateral and gangster-like” demands and for offering no constructive steps on the US side.

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But Trump tweeted Monday that he has “confidence” that Kim would honour the denuclearisation “contract” they signed at the summit and accused China — the isolated North’s powerful neighbour and ally — of seeking to undermine the deal.


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Former UK consulate worker says Chinese secret police tortured him

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A former employee of Britain's consulate in Hong Kong said Wednesday that Chinese secret police tortured and interrogated him about London's role in protests in the semi-autonomous city.

Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen, claimed he was shackled to a steel "tiger chair", hung spread-eagled on a "steep X-Cross" and beaten while he was detained for 15 days in August.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Cheng's allegations are credible and that the treatment "amounts to torture".

Raab told BBC radio that he summoned the Chinese ambassador to denounce the "disgraceful" and "outrageous behaviour from the authorities in China" which violate international law.

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Sondland briefed Pompeo on Trump’s Ukraine scheme — and secretary of state signed off on it: report

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President Donald Trump's ambassador to the European Union kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the loop on efforts to pressure Ukraine's president to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.

Gordon Sondland notified Pompeo in mid-August of a draft statement he'd produced with another U.S. diplomat and Ukrainian officials that they hoped would persuade Trump to invite Volodymyr Zelensky to the Oval Office, reported the New York Times.

He and Pompeo discussed later that month the possibility of pushing Zelensky to pledge during a planned meeting with Trump in Warsaw that he would pursue the investigation sought by the U.S. president in hopes of smoothing relations between the two countries, according to two sources who were briefed on the matter.

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MSNBC’s Mika shocked by Morning Joe’s withering criticism of House GOP: ‘I’ve never heard you accuse someone of that’

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MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski was astonished by her co-host and husband Joe Scarborough's denunciation of congressional Republicans.

The "Morning Joe" hosts agreed GOP attacks on Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who earned a Purple Heart fighting in the Iraq War, and other impeachment inquiry witnesses were shameful, but Scarborough went even further in his criticism.

"People talk about the time, 'It's a time we're in,' -- no, it's not," Scarborough said. "It's lack of character among people on these committees, just a lack of character and a lack of love of country that they put their political party above their country."

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