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N Korea-US talks: Pyongyang ‘ready to discuss denuclearisation’

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Image caption Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are due to meet in May, though North Korea has not publically confirmed this

North Korea has promised the US it is ready to discuss the future of its nuclear arsenal when the two nations' leaders meet, US officials say.

Preparations for the summit have included secret, direct talks with North Korea, Trump administration sources told CNN.

US and North Korean intelligence officials are said to have spoken many times, and met in a third country.

The unprecedented summit is slated to happen in May.

It will be the first time a sitting US president has met the leader of North Korea.

North Korea has already told South Korea it was prepared to address denuclearisation, but this is the first time assurances have been given to Washington directly.

Details of the leaders' summit, including the location, remain unclear. CNN's sources said that the North Koreans are pushing to have the meeting in their capital, Pyongyang, with Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar another option.

Promises, but no guarantees

News of the talks between the US and North Korea surprised many when it broke in March

It followed a year of threats, personal insults and nuclear brinkmanship between their respective leaders.

It is not clear if Pyongyang accepts Washington's definition of denuclearisation, which for the White House means the end of its nuclear weapons programme.

The North has previously halted missile and nuclear tests during past talks, only to resume them when it lost patience or felt its demands were not being met.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption South Korea says the North is prepared to discuss getting rid of its nuclear arsenal if its own safety can be guaranteed

As yet, North Korea has not broken its public silence to confirm the US summit is happening.

However, a series of meetings with overseas leaders suggest that preparations are indeed under way.

In late March, Mr Kim made his first known foreign trip since taking office in 2011 – to Beijing.

The visit, confirmed by China and North Korea, involved "successful talks" with President Xi Jinping, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

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Media captionChinese TV showed footage of the two leaders with their wives

China is North Korea's main economic ally, and it was thought highly likely that Pyongyang would consult Beijing before holding summits with South Korea and the US.

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Mr Kim is now expected to meet South Korea's President Moon Jae-in late April, on the heavily fortified Korean border.

South Korea has played a key role in brokering the proposed talks between the US and its northern neighbour.

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Carlos Ghosn : Renault names interim replacement

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Image caption Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan on Monday

Renault has appointed a temporary deputy chief executive to take over the running of the French car firm following the arrest of Carlos Ghosn.

Renault said its chief operating officer, Thierry Bolloré, would step up to the role because Mr Ghosn was "temporarily incapacitated".

Following an emergency board meeting, Renault said Mr Ghosn would remain as its chairman and chief executive.

But it said Mr Bolloré would lead the firm with the same powers as Mr Ghosn.

Mr Ghosn was arrested in Japan on Monday after allegations of financial misconduct.

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As well as Renault, he is also chairman of both Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors and leads an alliance of the three carmakers.

Japanese prosecutors say Mr Ghosn under-reported his income from running Nissan by 5bn yen (£34.5m) over five years.

On Tuesday evening, Renault said: "At this stage, the board is unable to comment on the evidence seemingly gathered against Mr Ghosn by Nissan and the Japanese judicial authorities."

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that Mr Ghosn was planning a merger between Renault and Nissan but that the Japanese company was opposed to a deal.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Thierry Bolloré has been appointed as Renault's deputy chief executive

Mr Bolloré is already in charge of many day-to-day activities at Renault.

The company said its decision to name him as deputy chief executive was a "transitional governance" measure "to preserve the interests of the group and the continuity of its operations".

Earlier, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Mr Ghosn was "no longer in a position" to lead the carmaker in which the French state has a 15% stake.

He also said Renault's partnership with Nissan remained in the interests of both France and Japan and of both companies.

Nissan and Mitsubishi are both preparing to remove him from his posts.

But Mitsubishi Motors chief executive Osamu Masuko said the alliance would be difficult to manage without Mr Ghosn.

Nissan has a 34% controlling stake in the smaller Japanese carmaker.

What has happened so far?

In a press conference on Monday, Nissan said an internal investigation prompted by a whistleblower had revealed "significant acts of misconduct" including "personal use of company assets".

Image copyright Getty Images

The announcement sent shockwaves through the automotive industry where Mr Ghosn, 64, is seen as a titan, responsible for a dramatic turnaround at Nissan in the early 2000s.

Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said "too much authority was given to one person in terms of governance".

"I have to say that this is a dark side of the Ghosn era which lasted for a long time," he said, adding he was still debating whether Mr Ghosn was "a charismatic figure or a tyrant".

What are the accusations?

Prosecutors later said in a statement that Mr Ghosn and senior executive Greg Kelly had conspired to understate Mr Ghosn's compensation, starting in 2010.

Mr Ghosn is accused of filing annual securities reports containing fake statements, which could mean up to 10 years in prison, or a fine of 10m yen, or both.

From 2010, Japanese firms have been required to disclose the salaries of executives who earn more than 100m yen.

Japanese prosecutors also said they had already raided Nissan's Yokohama headquarters, near Tokyo, as part of their investigation.

There has been no comment from Mr Ghosn or Mr Kelly.

How will this affect the Alliance?

As misconduct revelations emerged, the future of the car alliance led by Mr Ghosn remained unclear.

He has been credited with turning around both Nissan and Renault before becoming the linchpin of the alliance the companies later formed.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance sold 10.61 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in 2017, making it the number-one automotive group worldwide.

Nissan chief executive Mr Saikawa insisted the partnership would "not be affected by this event".

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E. coli outbreak: Romaine lettuce probed in US and Canada

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Image caption People in both the US and Canada have been infected

Romaine lettuce has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli in the US and Canada, health officials say.

At least 32 people have been sickened in the US, with 13 taken to hospital, while another 18 people have been stricken in Canada.

US officials said consumers, restaurants and retailers should throw away all kinds of romaine lettuce.

The latest outbreak follows the deaths of at least five people in the summer linked to romaine lettuce.

However, the latest statement from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this outbreak is not directly related to the cases earlier in 2018, with a slightly different DNA fingerprint for this strain of the illness.

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People began to fall ill in early October. An investigation into the outbreak is ongoing.

In Canada, the 18 cases were reported in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The infections in the US are spread over 11 states.

In June, five people died and hundreds of people were infected across 35 US states after a romaine lettuce-linked E. coli outbreak.

The illness can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and even kidney failure in severe cases.

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Avoiding E. coli infection

  • Wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet, before and after handling food, and after handling animals
  • Remove any loose soil before storing vegetables and salads
  • Wash all vegetables and fruits that will be eaten raw
  • Store and prepare raw meat and unwashed vegetables away from ready-to-eat foods
  • Do not prepare raw vegetables with utensils that have also been used for raw meat
  • Cook all minced meat products, such as burgers and meatballs, thoroughly
  • People who have been ill should not prepare food for others for at least 48 hours after they have recovered

Source: Public Health England

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