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News Wrap: U.S., Japan and South Korea unite on North Korea

July 7, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT
In the our news wrap Friday, the U.S., Japan and South Korea have agreed to apply “maximum pressure” after North Korea’s most recent intercontinental ballistic missile test. Also, President Trump met with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and emphasized the importance of renegotiating the NAFTA trade agreement.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: The U.S., Japan and South Korea have agreed to apply — quote — “maximum pressure” after North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test. In a joint statement, they said they will push for a U.N. Security Council resolution to apply new sanctions on Pyongyang. But if the North — quote — “chooses the right path,” the countries stand ready to offer a brighter future.

Experts believe the missile launched Tuesday could reach Alaska. And, today, North Korean state TV broadcast a message aimed at the U.S.

WOMAN (through interpreter): North Korea makes it clear once again that its development of an intercontinental ballistic rocket is an option taken to defend itself. The test is a gift package addressed to none other than the U.S. The U.S. will receive more gift packages as it tries harder to destroy, by means of sanctions and pressure, the overall national power and strategic position of North Korea.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The U.S./Japan/South Korea statement also called on nations that border North Korea to help reduce the threat. That is an unmistakable reference to Pyongyang’s closest ally, China, whose leader meets tomorrow with President Trump.

Mr. Trump also met today with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, and emphasized the importance of renegotiating the NAFTA trade agreement. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the pair since President Trump took office. He hailed Pena Nieto as his friend, but said that he absolutely still wants Mexico to pay for a proposed border wall between the two countries.

In Egypt, a suicide car bombing left at least 23 soldiers dead on the Sinai Peninsula, the worst attack there in years. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the incident at a checkpoint south of Rafah.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, ISIS fighters are still clinging to a shrinking pocket of territory in Mosul. Iraqi government forces laid out the difficulty.

ABDUL WAHAB AL-SAADI, Lieutenant General, Iraqi Special Forces (through interpreter): We are facing challenges that slow down our operations. And that’s because the Islamic State group is using civilians as human shields, especially children and women. And that’s why we advance very slowly, because we have to protect their lives.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Also today, the Pentagon said that airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria have killed a total of more than 600 civilians. That is since the start of the anti-ISIS campaign in 2014.

Back in this country, hiring surged more than expected in June. The Labor Department says U.S. employers added 222,000 jobs, the most in four months. But the unemployment rate ticked up slightly, from 4.3 percent to 4.4 percent, as more people looked for work. Analysts say the positive report is likely to lead to another hike in the Federal Reserve’s key interest rate.

For now, that news drove stock prices higher on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 94 points today to close at 21414. The Nasdaq rose 63, and the S&P 500 added 15. For the week, all three indexes edged up a fraction of a percent.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited the military prison at Guantanamo Bay today.  He was joined by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.  Sessions has called Guantanamo a — quote — “perfectly acceptable place” for detaining terror suspects.

A Justice Department spokesman said that the visit was meant to get an up-to-date understanding of current operations.

And an influential press freedom group is criticizing a report by Republican senators about leaks of government information.  The document released yesterday which was sent to the attorney general says that leaks are harming national security.  The Committee to Protect Journalists said it seems intended to have a chilling effect, and resembles measures seen — quote — “more often in authoritarian countries.”

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