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Trump, North Korea, MH370: Your Wednesday Briefing

Trump, North Korea, MH370: Your Wednesday Briefing

Asia and Australia Edition

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Good morning. A top North Korean is said to be headed to New York, the White House takes tough trade measures against China, and a search for Malaysia Airlines 370 ends. Here’s what you need to know:

CreditPatrick Semansky/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

• North Korea’s top nuclear weapons negotiator, Kim Yong-chol, above, was heading to New York on Tuesday, President Trump said. Mr. Kim, one of the most trusted aides to the North’s leader and a former intelligence chief, was due to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

American and North Korean officials have been trying to salvage a proposed June 12 summit meeting that Mr. Trump canceled last week.

The U.S. is hoping to start talks with North Korea on “rapid denuclearization,” but a top government adviser and former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory says the process could take up to 15 years.

That time frame stands in stark contrast with what the U.S. has demanded, and the issue could become a sticking point in any meeting between Mr. Trump and the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un.


CreditChina Daily Cdic/Reuters

The Trump administration said it would proceed with a series of punitive trade-related measures on China next month, increasing pressure on Beijing to make concessions. The plan is to levy 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports. A list of products affected will be released by June 15, officials said.

Trade talks will continue, but the U.S. has asked China to remove “all of its many trade barriers” that prevent U.S. companies from doing business in China.

Above, workers loaded imported goods in Nantong, China.


CreditEdgard Garrido/Reuters
CreditAkhtar Soomro/Reuters

Pakistan has a new caretaker prime minister: Nasir ul-Mulk, a former Supreme Court chief justice who will lead a nonpartisan interim government through general elections in July. His main challenge will be to ensure a free and fair vote amid heightened tensions between leading politicians as the country, prone to coups, aims to make its second democratic transition.

Pakistan’s former spy chief, Asad Durrani, wrote a book with his Indian counterpart to encourage dialogue between the two countries. Instead, Pakistan’s military barred him from leaving the country and opened an investigation into whether he violated the military’s code of conduct.

And a heat wave has scorched the port city of Karachi, above, where temperatures soared above 110 degrees Fahrenheit last week, days after the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. The timing has exacerbated the effects of the brutal heat, which has killed at least 65 people.

CreditAnna Maria Antoinette D’Addario for The New York Times

The case of the disappearing athletes.

The first group was from Cameroon, and the others were also mostly African. This year, nearly 250 athletes and officials stayed on in Australia after the Commonwealth Games, with the majority applying for asylum.

Though they have kept low profiles to avoid attention from the authorities, their presence has reignited a debate about how and when Australia should welcome foreigners fleeing danger.

“I prefer they put me in jail here than go back to Africa,” said Lamin Tucker, above, a former sprinter for Sierra Leone.



CreditWiqan Ang for The New York Times

• The Canadian government will buy the Trans Mountain pipeline, which is opposed by environmentalists and some indigenous groups. The move puts the government squarely on the side of the country’s oil industry.

• U.S. stocks were down. Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

CreditAmir Cohen/Reuters

• Gaza militants fired at least 28 mortar shells into southern Israel, escalating tensions after weeks of deadly protests along the border. Above, shrapnel from the shells. [The New York Times]

• Myanmar has stepped up violence against ethnic minorities, including the Kachin community, which is mainly Christian, the U.S. said. [The New York Times]

• The most recent search for MH370, the Malaysian passenger that disappeared in 2014, has ended after three months. [The New York Times]

• Puerto Rico’s government said 64 people died from Hurricane Maria, but a new study estimates that the toll may exceed 4,000. [The New York Times]

• A gunman in Belgium was killed after he fatally shot two police officers and a civilian in Liège. [The New York Times]

A rare brain-damaging virus has killed 13 people in India, and officials are scrambling to find the source. [Reuters]

The number of foreign applications to buy Australian homes has plummeted as new fees and policies take effect. [Sydney Morning Herald]

South Australian officials asked the public for help in a serial murder case, saying they have a suspect but not enough evidence to arrest. [CNN]

Malaysia has abandoned an ambitious plan to build a rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. [Channel NewsAsia]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.

CreditAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times

• Planning a road trip? We recommend these books.


CreditJohannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
CreditRon Edmonds/Associated Press

Last year’s winner was Ananya Vinay, who won with “marocain.” Although she isn’t allowed to compete in this year’s national bee, she’s still spelling and coaching others.

Texas is the state with the most winners, 11. Twenty-two states have had none. Spellers from other countries can compete, and the first international winner was Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998, above, with “chiaroscurist.” There are spellers from five countries other than the U.S. this year.

The longest winning word was “scherenschnitte,” spelled by Vanya Shivashankar, who was a co-champion in 2015. The shortest was “luge,” which won Daniel Greenblatt the title in 1984.

In 1983, a child who lost made news. Andrew Flosdorf was praised “for his utter honesty” after telling the judges they misheard him when they said he spelled “echolalia” correctly. “I didn’t want to feel like a slime,” he said.

Think you could compete? Try a sample quiz here.

Sarah Anderson wrote today’s Back Story.


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