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Trump formally recognizes Jerusalem as capital of Israel

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WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump has officially announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel amid warnings of potential unrest in the Middle East, and plans to relocate the American embassy.

In a speech at the White House, Trump said his administration would begin a process of moving the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is expected to take years.

“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious — that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” Trump said in a pre-scheduled speech at the White House.

The US President admitted the move will cause dissent, but says it could help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The status of Jerusalem — home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions — is one of the thorniest obstacles to reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said adding: “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”

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Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there while Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement as a ‘historic landmark’ and urged other countries to move their embassies in Israel to Jerusalem.

But,the Palestinians have said Trump’s move would mean the ‘kiss of death’ to the two-state solution, envisaging a Palestinian state in territory — the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem — that Israel took in 1967.

Ahead of Trump’s announcement, Washington’s allies in the region warned of dangerous consenquences.

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US ready to talk to North Korea without preconditions

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WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said Washington is ready to begin talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, without pre-conditions.

“We’re ready to have the first meeting without preconditions,” Tillerson told a meeting on the crisis at the Atlantic Council policy forum in Washington.

Tillerson’s new diplomatic overture comes nearly two weeks after North Korea said it had successfully tested a breakthrough intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that put the entire United States mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

“Let’s just meet and let’s talk about the weather if you want and talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table if that’s what you’re excited about,” Tillerson said.

This appeared to represent a softening in the US position, seeing as officials had previously demanded that Kim Jong-Un’s regime demonstrate a willingness to consider giving up its arsenal.

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But, the White House later issued an ambiguous statement that left unclear whether President Donald Trump — who has said Tillerson was wasting his time pursuing dialogue with North Korea — had given his approval for the speech.

“The president’s views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House said adding, “North Korea is acting in an unsafe way … North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea.”

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-Un has vowed to make North Korea the “world’s strongest nuclear power,” tate media reported Wednesday.

Mr Kim told workers behind the recent test of a new missile that his country “will victoriously advance and leap as the strongest nuclear power and military power in the world,” in a ceremony on Tuesday, according to state news agency KCNA.

GNN/Reuters

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