North Korea says it is willing to resume nuclear talks with U.S. in late September

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un meet at the start of their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Monday it was willing to restart nuclear talks with the United States in late September, but warned that chances of a deal could end unless Washington takes a fresh approach.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed in a June 30 meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump to reopen working-level talks stalled since their failed February summit in Hanoi, but this has yet to happen in spite of repeated appeals from Washington.

In a statement carried by North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, Vice North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said Pyongyang was willing to have “comprehensive discussions” with the United States in late September at a time and place agreed between both sides.

Asked for comment, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said: “We don’t have any meetings to announce at this time.”

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped to return to denuclearization talks with North Korea in the coming days or weeks.

Choe stressed that Washington needed to present a new approach or the talks could fall apart again.

“I want to believe that the U.S. side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said.

“If the U.S. side toys with an old scenario that has nothing to do with the new method at working-level talks which would be held after difficulties, a deal between the two sides may come to an end.”

In April, Kim set a year-end deadline for the United States to show more flexibility in talks, which broke down in February over U.S. demands for North Korea to give up all of its nuclear weapons and Pyongyang’s demands for relief from punishing U.S.-led international sanctions.

The end-of-September time frame would coincide with the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York, which Pompeo is due to attend. North Korea’s mission to the United Nations said last week that Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho would not attend “due to his schedule.”

North Korea has demanded that Pompeo be replaced with a “more mature” person in the U.S. negotiating team, while lauding the rapport built between Kim and Trump in three meetings since June 2018.

The U.S. special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, led working-level talks with North Korea in the run-up to the failed Hanoi meeting.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin in Seoul and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Grant McCool)

U.S. jurors’ identities in ‘El Chapo’ drug trial to remain secret

Recaptured drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted by soldiers at the hangar belonging to the office of the Attorney General in Mexico City, Mexico January 8, 2016

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge in Brooklyn has ruled that the identities of jurors expected to decide the fate of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman at a trial this year will be kept secret.

In a decision on Monday, U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan said jurors’ names, addresses and places of employment will be shielded from Guzman, his lawyers, prosecutors and the press.

He also ordered that jurors be transported to and from the courthouse by federal marshals, and sequestered from the public while there.

Guzman’s lawyer had argued that an anonymous jury would undermine the presumption that his client was innocent, create an “extremely unfair” impression that he was dangerous, and impair his ability to question prospective jurors.

“Mr. Guzman is obviously disappointed by the decision,” the lawyer, Eduardo Balarezo, said in an email on Tuesday. “All he is asking for is a fair trial in front of an impartial jury.”

U.S. prosecutors have accused Guzman, 60, of running a global cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine smuggling operation as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, and playing a central role in a decade-long Mexican drug war where more than 100,000 people have died.

Cogan said the U.S. government “presented strong and credible reasons to believe that the jury needs protection,” and the evidence might depict a “pattern of violence” by Guzman and his associates that might cause jurors to fear for their safety.

“That many of the allegations involve murder, assault, kidnapping, or torture of potential witnesses or those suspected of assisting law enforcement makes the government’s concerns particularly salient,” Cogan wrote.

The judge also said the significant media attention to the case could raise the potential for juror names to become public, exposing jurors to the risk of intimidation or harassment.

Balarezo had in court papers said keeping juror identities from the public and news media would be a “fair compromise.”

Guzman’s trial is scheduled to begin in September, according to court records, and could last a few months.

Mexican authorities captured Guzman and an associate in January 2016 by pulling over a Ford Focus they had stolen, after Guzman had fled through tunnels and drains from a raid on a safe house in northwest Mexico.

The arrest came six months after Guzman had escaped through a tunnel from a high-security Mexican prison. Guzman was extradited to the United States in January 2017.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown)