In our news wrap Friday, President Trump announced that he is withdrawing sanctions his administration imposed on North Korea just yesterday. According to Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, the president “likes Chairman Kim” and “doesn’t think these sanctions will be necessary.” Also, New Zealand held a day of remembrance for the 50 people who were shot to death at two mosques last Friday.
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In the day's other news, President Trump announced that he is withdrawing sanctions his administration placed on North Korea just yesterday, an issue that caused his summit with Chairman Kim to collapse last month.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president — quote — "likes Chairman Kim and doesn't think these sanctions will be necessary.
Yesterday, the Treasury Department sanctioned two Chinese shipping companies believed to be helping the North evade sanctions.
Meanwhile, North Korea abruptly pulled its staff out of a liaison office with South Korea near the demilitarized zone. South Korea's vice unification minister expressed his disappointment.
Chun Hae-Sung (through translator):
Our government finds the North's decision regrettable, and it is hoped that the North returns its staff to the liaison office for normal operations, as it was agreed between the two countries.
We want to monitor the situation for a bit longer and respond to the developments, instead of making predictions or premature judgments.
North Korea gave no reason for withdrawing its staff. The office opened last September in a bid to improve diplomatic ties between the two Koreas.
New Zealand held a national day of remembrance to mark one week since 50 people were shot to death in a massacre at two mosques. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was one of thousands in Christchurch who observed the Muslim call to prayer at a park next to where the shooting began.
An imam from one of the mosques told the crowd, the country stands as one.
We have shown that New Zealand is unbreakable, and that the world can see in us an example of love and unity. We are brokenhearted, but we are not broken.
Elsewhere in Christchurch, thousands of mourners gathered for a burial ceremony for 26 of the attack victims.
The death toll from a powerful cyclone on the African continent surpassed 600 people today, as the floodwaters slowly began to recede. The storm battered Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Aid agencies warned that the toll could easily top 1,000 people.
John Irvine of Independent Television News filed this report from one of Mozambique's hardest-hit areas.
These children have lost everything and everyone. They have been rescued and ferried to safety, but they're on their own, orphans of the flood.
The rescue operation out of Beira has involved local fisherman conducting a Dunkirk-style evacuation, going and getting those stranded way out there and bringing them back here.
Most of the people rescued have survived an epic flood. They're from in and around the town at the heart of the giant lake created inland, the town of Buzi, where, for the most part, life has been lived on rooftops since the cyclone struck.
First came the wind that ripped apart many homes. Then came the floodwaters that made any indoors left uninhabitable. And so it was to the rooftops they retreated with all they could manage. For eight days, they have survived on the bare minimum.
We need food. We need food. We need clothes. We need shelter.
The only good news here in Buzi is that water levels are receding and the weather forecast is better.
The cyclone is probably the worst natural disaster in Mozambique's history. And to say the government here has been overwhelmed would be an understatement. Here in Buzi, the relief effort has been minimal, at best. By and large, these people have had to rely on themselves.
The cyclone has been a cataclysmic event here, lives, livelihood, livestock, crops and homes. The costs are huge and will define this area for the foreseeable future.
That report from John Irvine of Independent Television News.
Two U.S. soldiers died in an operation in Afghanistan today. That brings the total number of American troops killed in the country this year to four. Word of their deaths came as the U.S. is negotiating with the Taliban to bring an end to the 17-year-long war. Some 14,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Afghanistan.
In U.S. economic news, stocks plunged on Wall Street today, amid growing fears about a slowdown in the global economy. The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 460 points to close at 25502. The Nasdaq fell 196 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 54.
The government of Syria today vowed to take back the Golan Heights, one day after President Trump recognized Israel's sovereignty over the disputed territory. Israel captured the strip of land on the Syrian-Israeli border during the Six-Day War in 1967. Iran also condemned President Trump's move today, contending that it will destabilize the region.
And in Istanbul, Turkey, its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, echoed those concerns.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (through translator):
President Trump's unfortunate statement yesterday with regard to the Golan Heights has brought the region to the brink of a new crisis and new tensions. We will never allow, cannot allow the legitimization of the occupation of the Golan Heights.
A spokesman for the British government also said the United Kingdom refuses to recognize Israel's sovereignty in Golan and has — quote — "no plans to change its position."
And police in Charlottesville, Virginia, today arrested a 17-year-old boy for posting online threats of — quote — "ethnic cleansing." They targeted black and Latino students at a local high school, prompting authorities to close all of the city's schools for two days. Charlottesville has struggled to combat racism, after a white nationalist rally turned violent in 2017.
At the time, President Trump was criticized for saying that there were — quote — "fine people" on both sides of the issue.
Today, the city's police chief offered this warning:
We want the community and the world to know that hate is not welcomed in Charlottesville, violence is not welcomed in Charlottesville, intolerance is not welcomed in Charlottesville.
And in Charlottesville and around the globe, we stand firmly in stating, there are not very fine people on both sides of this issue.
The city's schools are expected to reopen on Monday.