In our News Wrap Tuesday, South Korea calls for high-level talks with North Korea following softened remarks from leader Kim Jong Un, who offered to send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics. Also: tensions rise between the U.S. and Pakistan after U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley confirms the U.S. is withholding $255 million in aid.
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In the day’s other news- South Korea extended an olive branch to its rival North Korea. It offered high-level talks with Pyongyang to find ways to cooperate on next month’s Winter Olympics in the South. That came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued a rare overture to discuss easing military tensions.
South Korea proposed for the two countries to meet in a border village next Tuesday.
Cho Myoung-Gyon (through interpreter):
We look forward to candidly discussing mutual interests from both sides face-to-face, to improve relationships along with the North’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Back in the U.S., President Trump weighed in on the possible talks between the Koreas, tweeting — quote — “Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not. We will see.”
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said any talks won’t matter unless the North drops its nuclear program.
The Trump administration is withholding millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan over concerns that it hasn’t done enough to fight terrorism. U.N. Ambassador Haley made the announcement a day after President Trump used Twitter to criticize Islamabad for harboring terrorists.
Haley also left open the possibility that President Trump could eventually halt all funding to Pakistan if they don’t fully cooperate. She spoke at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Ambassador Nikki Haley:
The administration is withholding $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. There are clear reasons for this. Pakistan has played a double game for years. They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan. That game is not acceptable to this administration.
In Pakistan, scores of demonstrators took to the streets of Karachi. Protesters burned American flags and chanted slogans condemning President Trump’s tweet. Pakistan’s Foreign Office also summoned the U.S. ambassador to explain the president’s comments.
Late today, President Trump also suggested in a tweet that the U.S. could cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority over its stalled peace talks with Israel.
An American service member has died in combat in Eastern Afghanistan. Pentagon officials said the fighting took place yesterday in Nangarhar Province, near the Pakistani border. Four other soldiers were wounded. The U.S. military formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014. But it still takes part in operations against the Taliban and the Islamic State, alongside Afghan forces.
In Peru, at least 36 people lost their lives when their bus plummeted over the side of a cliff. The bus was traveling on a treacherous stretch of highway north of Lima, when it collided with a tractor-trailer. Crews worked to rescue survivors in a hard-to-reach area. Several people were transported to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.
Back in this country, the longest-serving Senate Republican announced that he is retiring at the end of this year; 83-year-old Orrin Hatch of Utah said he won’t seek reelection after being in office more than 40 years. In a video announcement, Hatch, who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee, said it’s time to move on.
Sen. Orrin Hatch:
I have always been a fighter. I was an amateur boxer in my youth, and I brought that fighting spirit with me to Washington. But every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves. And for me, that time is soon approaching. I may be leaving the Senate, but the next chapter in my public service is just beginning.
The move now opens the door for former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to possibly run for the Utah Senate seat.
A bone-chilling cold gripped a huge swathe of the U.S. for another day. The deep freeze has now been blamed for at least nine deaths in the past week. Subzero temperatures forced schools to close in Indianapolis. And farther south, in Houston, traffic on ice-covered highways slowed to a crawl. Freeze warnings were issued there, all the way north to Canada, and from Montana through New England.
The leader of the New York City Ballet is retiring, following an investigation into sexual misconduct. Peter Martins had been accused of sexually harassing or abusing members of the company over decades. In a letter to the board of directors, Martins maintained his innocence, and acknowledged the scandal had taken a painful toll on his family.
And on Wall Street today, stocks closed out this first day of trading in 2018 on a high note, led by gains in the technology and health care sectors. The Dow Jones industrial average soared 104 points to close at 24,824. The Nasdaq hit a record high, rising 103 points, and the S&P 500 also notched a record, adding 22.