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North Korea suspends talks with South Korea

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SEOUL — North Korea has suspended high-level talks with South Korea scheduled for Wednesday after US and South Korean joint military exercises and warned that a summit next month between its leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump could be in jeopardy.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) called the US-South Korean ‘Max Thunder’ air combat drills, which it said involved US stealth fighters and B-52 bombers, a ‘provocation’ that went against the trend of warming North-South ties.

The meeting was set up to work out steps for implementing a declaration agreed to during the North-South summit between the two countries on April 27.

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Issues addressed in the declaration include formally ending the Korean War and working toward the “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula.

“This exercise, targeting us, which is being carried out across South Korea, is a flagrant challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and an intentional military provocation running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula,” Yonhap quoted KCNA as saying.

“The US should make efforts to create an atmosphere for mutual respect and confidence before dialogue, not resorting to a foolish farce that may reverse the good trend created with much effort.”

Agencies

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Syria ‘accidentally shot down’ Russian spy plane during Israeli attack

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Russia’s defence ministry said one of its military surveillance aircraft with 14 people on board disappeared from radar screens over the Mediterranean at the same time as Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria.

“Connection has been lost with the crew of a Russian Il-20 plane over the Mediterranean Sea,” the ministry said. Contact was lost at about 23:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Monday, it added.

There are conflicting reports as to who is responsible for the downing of the aircraft, however the US claims it was accidentally shot down by the Syrian regime’s anti-aircraft artillery after the Syrians came under fire by Israeli missiles.

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A US official said Washington believed the aircraft, the turbo-prop plane used for electronic reconnaissance, was inadvertently shot down by anti-aircraft artillery operated by Moscow’s ally, the Syrian Government.

Russsia’s Defence Ministry said the aircraft was returning to the Russian-run Hmeymim airbase in Latakia province when it disappeared from radar screens at about 11:00pm Moscow time.

The plane was over the Mediterranean Sea about 35 kilometres from the Syrian coastline, Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

The fate of the 14 people on board the missing plane is unknown, and a rescue operation has been organised out of the Hmeymim base, the ministry said.

Agencies

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