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National Govt & Politics
The Latest: Trump defends meeting, North Korea efforts
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The Latest: Trump defends meeting, North Korea efforts

The Latest: Trump defends meeting, North Korea efforts
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, pose for a photo during a visit to the tea house on the grounds of the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, June 29, 2019. Trump is making a quick trip to Seoul after attending the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The Latest: Trump defends meeting, North Korea efforts

The Latest on President Donald Trump and North Korea (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his decision to stage an historic meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone that separates the North and South, insisting that much progress has been made under his watch.

Trump is nonetheless downplaying the significance of the visit, saying, "It's just a step."

He says: "It might be an important step but it might not."

Trump was asked during a news conference in Seoul about criticism that he is rewarding Kim with a photo-op, even as North Korea continues to test short-range missiles and refuses to give up its nuclear efforts.

Trump says the countries have nonetheless "made tremendous strides" and says it's "insulting" to even compare where things stand now versus the situation two-and-a-half-years ago before he took office.

_

1:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he's looking forward to meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un at the Korean Demilitarized Zone later Sunday.

Trump is telling reporters at a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he and Kim will "just shake hands quickly and say hello" at the historic meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom.

And he's praising the chemistry between him and Kim, saying "there's a lot of good feeling.

The meeting will be the first at the DMZ between U.S. and North Korean leaders since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953.

Moon is also hailing Trump as "the peacemaker of the Korean peninsula," and says he hopes Trump will go down in history as the president who managed to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula.

___

1:15 p.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un will meet at the Korean Demilitarized Zone Sunday afternoon.

Moon says Kim accepted Trump's invitation to meet when the U.S. president visits the heavily-fortified site at the Korean border village of Panmunjom.

Moon is praising the two leaders for "being so brave" to hold the meeting and says, "I hope President Trump will go down in history as the president who achieves peace on Korean Peninsula."

Trump Saturday invited Kim to meet him at the border for a symbolic handshake. Trump also expressed openness to crossing into North Korean territory if Kim accepted, saying he'd "have no problem" becoming the first U.S. president to step into North Korea.

___

11:45 a.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says that a potential handshake between President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone would represent "a significant milestone" and be an "historic event."

Moon says as he and Trump sit down for talks in Seoul on Sunday that Trump's tweet publicly suggesting the meeting represented a "big hope to the Korean people."

And he says he can "really feel that the flower of peace was truly blossoming on the Korean peninsula."

Trump is also telling reporters that both he and Kim would like to make their third face-to-face meeting happening during Trump's long-planned visit to the DMZ, but that logistics and security issues remain.

He said: "There's a possibility that it's going to be very interesting."

___

10:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he believes North Korea's Kim Jong Un wants to meet him when he visits the Demilitarized Zone on Sunday.

Speaking to Korean business leaders in Seoul, South Korea, Trump says, "I understand they want to meet and I'd love to say hello."

He says if the meeting materializes it will be "very short," adding, "let's see what happens. They're trying to work it out."

Trump on Saturday invited Kim to meet him for a handshake at the heavily fortified armistice line between the Koreas.

The president has been trying to restart nuclear talks with the North after they broke down during his second summit with Kim earlier this year in Vietnam. The two leaders since have traded what they've described as flowery letters.

___

11:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump and President Moon Jae-in (jah-YIHN') of South Korea agree that Trump's possible meeting on Sunday at the Demilitarized Zone with North Korea's Kim Jong Un (gihm jung oon) would be a "good thing."

That's according to a South Korean presidential official, Yoon Do-han, who spoke to reporters in Seoul after the two presidents had dinner.

Yoon says Moon talked about Kim's commitment to denuclearization, while Trump expressed his "amicable" views on Kim.

Yoon says a Trump-Kim meeting, if it comes off, would help pave the way for the resumption of nuclear diplomacy.

___

8:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is being welcomed to South Korea by its president — and one of its biggest K-pop boy bands.

Trump's met with President Moon Jae-in (jah-YIHN') at the Blue House, where the South Korean leader has his offices and home.

Trump also met EXO, a star pop group whose members gave the president a book. They also chatted with Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The president isn't saying whether he'll meet North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (gihm jung oon) on Sunday at the heavily fortified South Korean-North Korean border known as the DMZ.

Trump is just saying "it will be very interesting" but he's not giving other details about the surprise trip, which he announced earlier in the day on Twitter.

___

7:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump has landed in South Korea, and a meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un (gihm jung oon) may be on his agenda.

Trump flew from Osaka, Japan, where he attended a global summit and held numerous meetings with world leaders, including Russia's Vladimir Putin (POO'-tihn) and China's Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng).

Trump has said he'll visit the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea, and he's invited Kim to join him "just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!"

___

2:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump has invited North Korea's Kim Jong Un to shake hands during a possible visit by Trump to the Demilitarized Zone with South Korea.

Trump made the offer before he left Japan, where he attended a summit of world leaders, and arrived in South Korea.

He tweeted that while he is in South Korea, "if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!"

North Korea responded by calling the offer a "very interesting suggestion.

Trump's summit with Kim in Vietnam earlier this year collapsed without an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

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The Latest News Headlines

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The Board ultimately voted to move forward with this option instead, saying they want to work on growing JEA in to the future, and this is the way to do it.  JEA’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Aaron Zahn says they only started delving in to these non-traditional options in the last month, after the Board said they wanted other ways to move forward. In that time, he says they have put together the general framework for different possibilities, although they have not yet fully analyzed how each would work with key metrics like customer rates and environmental stewardship. The options they laid out include a range from community control to running as a private operation to partnering with some other company, including major tech or oil and gas. As part of this exploration, JEA says there will be “minimum requirements” to any deal. That will include customer rebates, base rate stability, protections for employee compensation and retirement benefits, moving forward with a new Downtown headquarters, and more. The Board also committed to a one-time cash payment to the City of around $3 billion, in lieu of future annual contributions. Zahn says JEA does not have that kind of liquidity, and rather this would be something they anticipate any prospective future partner to come to the table with. Multiple Board members spoke about the importance of these measures, in wanting to ensure the community, customers, and employees alike are all cared for by the current service and as they look at what the future holds. There were concerns expressed at the start of Tuesday’s meeting, with several union representatives urging the Board to act with the employees in mind. “We advise our members to focus on safety and concentrate on their job, but it is extremely difficult after the last couple of Board meetings focused on solutions that were not only detrimental to our member’s livelihoods, but were completely lacking some hope at times,” says Jesse Ferraraccio, with IBEW Local 2358. Removing the government control element is vital for the future of JEA, according to the utility, because of the barriers for future growth that exist in the current dynamic. Leadership cited examples like provisions of the Florida Constitution that could preclude them from working in electric vehicles, terms of the City Charter that prevent geographic growth, public records laws that could put them at a competitive disadvantage in new developments, and more. While they projected they could have some success in changing the City Charter, they estimated a change to the Constitution to be a costly battle with a very small chance of success.  They, therefore, believe that removing themselves from the government arena is the most effective way to get rid of those existing barriers for growth. Tuesday’s vote triggers what is expected to be a roughly year-long process, during which time the Senior Leadership team will actively solicit offers and study the different non-government ownership structures they presented, as well as any they have not. They will then present those to the JEA Board, along with the “traditional response” that involves layoffs and rate hikes. The Board will vote, and if they decide to take on a restructuring, the decision would then have to pass through the City Council, and then the voters. Several Board Members questioned how confident the leadership team was about the grim projections and the need to act on them. Dykes acknowledged that there have been big events that have led to inaccurate projections in the industry before, but says they factored in more than two dozen variables in this analysis. “Is it gunna be 100% right? It’s not. But this is our best guess and our best projection of where this business is headed over the next ten years,” she says. “The true value of a projection or forecast is that it enables us to envision where we could end up in the future, while there is still time to pull the respective levers and change the course of the organization, versus getting to our destination and merely reporting back on what happened,” says Board Member Kelly Flanagan. JEA has floated privatization in the past, which ultimately led to a politically charged debate and the creation of a special City Council committee to study the matter. At the time, the idea was put out as a desire to understand the value of JEA, but leadership argues it became a debate on whether to sell, which they say is not what they had intended.  That prior “exploration” stalled out early last year, when Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said that he would not put forward any privatization plan for City Council consideration. Given that, WOKV reached out to the City for a response to today’s vote by JEA’s Board, and a statement from Curry says whatever path JEA takes must have guarantees for the community. The City Council liaison, Danny Becton, says there needs to be some out-of-the-box thinking. “JEA is at a crossroads. Like many companies that we see in today’s ever-changing world of technology advances and innovation, JEA is no different,” Becton says. Privatization talks in the past raised a number of concerns, including that a private company would not be eligible for the same disaster relief funding that the municipal-owned JEA gets, and that it could also lead to a dynamic where the utility is less responsive to community needs and concerns. WOKV asked Zahn if the utility is in a good position for the next year, so that they can stay financially sustainable while considering these options, and not have to make any immediate rate changes or layoffs. “It is a calculated risk that we are taking to delay action today by 6-12 months to see if the minimum requirements set forth today can come to fruition,” he says. He hopes the steps they’re taking to be deliberate in the management of JEA will prevent any fiscal crisis like he says they could face without change.

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