The leaders of North and South Korea announced a wide range of agreements Wednesday which they said were a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. But the premier pledge on denuclearization contained a big condition, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stating he'd permanently dismantle his main nuclear complex only if the United States takes unspecified corresponding measures.
Compared to the vague language of their two summits earlier this year, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed in their second day of meetings to an ambitious program meant to tackle soaring tensions last year that had many fearing war as the North tested a string of increasingly powerful weapons.
Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon, and both leaders vowed to work together to try to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.
But while containing several tantalizing offers, their joint statement appeared to fall short of the major steps many in Washington have been looking for — such as a commitment by Kim to provide a list of North Korea's nuclear facilities, a solid step-by-step timeline for closing them down, or an agreement to allow international inspectors to assess progress or discover violations.
It also was unclear what "corresponding steps" North Korea wants from the U.S. to dismantle its nuclear site.
The question is whether it will be enough for U.S. President Donald Trump to pick up where Moon has left off. Trump, tweeting about the Korean leaders' agreements, said, "Very exciting!"
Declaring they had made a major step toward peace, Moon and Kim stood side by side as they announced the joint statement to a group of North and South Korean reporters after a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning. They took no questions.
"We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat," Kim said at the guesthouse where Moon is staying. "The road to our future will not always be smooth and we may face challenges and trials we can't anticipate. But we aren't afraid of headwinds because our strength will grow as we overcome each trial based on the strength of our nation."
Kim and Moon earlier smiled and chatted as they walked down a hallway and into a meeting room to finalize the joint statement, which also said that the leaders would push for a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons and to "eliminate all the danger of war." Moon and Kim planned to visit a volcano sacred to the North on Thursday, the last day of Moon's visit.
This week's summit comes as Moon is under increasing pressure from Washington to find a path forward in efforts to get Kim to completely — and unilaterally — abandon his nuclear arsenal.
Trump has maintained that he and Kim have a solid relationship, and both leaders have expressed interest in a follow-up summit to their meeting in June in Singapore. North Korea has been demanding a declaration formally ending the Korean War, which was stopped in 1953 by a cease-fire, but neither leader mentioned it Wednesday as they read the joint statement.
In the meantime, however, Moon and Kim made concrete moves of their own to reduce tensions on their border.
According to a statement signed by the countries' defense chiefs, the two Koreas agreed to establish buffer zones along their land and sea borders to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes. They also agreed to withdraw 11 guard posts from the Demilitarized Zone by December and to establish a no-fly zone above the military demarcation line that bisects the two Koreas that will apply to planes, helicopters and drones.
Though not directly linked to security, the leaders' announcement that they would seek a joint Summer Olympics was a significant move in terms of easing tensions and building trust. It also flows from the North's decision to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Games in February, which was regarded as a success for both sides.
Other agreements aimed at removing some longstanding irritants from their relations, such as allowing more contact between families divided by the Korean War. Moon also appeared to be making good on his proposals to help build up the North's infrastructure and open cross-border rail links.
Unlike Trump's initial tweets praising the summit, the news brought a quick and negative response from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who tweeted that he was concerned the visit would undermine efforts by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to impose "maximum pressure" on the North.
"While North Korea has stopped testing missiles and nuclear devices, they have NOT moved toward denuclearization," he tweeted.
With the main business of the day complete, North Korea was expected to hold a huge mass games spectacle in the evening, with Moon as the special guest. Seoul said Moon would make a short speech.
North Korea had put the iconic games, which feature tens of thousands of performers dancing and flipping placards in unison to create giant mosaics and slogans, on a back burner for the past several years, but revived them for this month's celebrations of its 70th founding anniversary. In a performance for the anniversary, a giant photo of Moon and Kim shaking hands at their first summit in April was projected onto one side of the stands in Pyongyang's 150,000-seat May Day Stadium.
Kim has gone all out to make Moon's visit a memorable one.
On Tuesday, the first day of the summit, he greeted Moon and his wife at Pyongyang's airport and then rode into town with Moon in an open limousine through streets lined with crowds of North Koreans, who cheered and waved the flag of their country and a blue-and-white flag that symbolizes Korean unity.
At the start of their meeting, Kim thanked Moon for brokering the June summit with Trump.
"It's not too much to say that it's Moon's efforts that arranged a historic North Korea-U.S. summit. Because of that, the regional political situation has been stabilized and more progress on North Korea-U.S. ties is expected," Kim said, according to South Korean media pool reports and Moon's office.
A young boy has been arrested in Australia after police say he admitted to putting needles in strawberries.
NSW Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said detectives had arrested one young boy over an incident that "could be a prank", 7 NEWS reports.
"Obviously in the last few days we found a young person has admitted to a prank, including putting needles in strawberries, and he’ll be dealt with under the youth cautioning system," the acting assistant commissioner said.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the "idiot" who first sabotaged Queensland strawberries, setting off a distressing series of events, had risked the livelihoods of farmers and put fear in the hearts of parents across the country.
"This is a shocking and cowardly thing for this individual and others who have jumped onto the bandwagon here to have engaged in," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra today.
Anyone found guilty of contaminating food could soon face a maximum of 15 years in prison, up from 10 years.
The threshold for the harsh penalties will also be lowered from an intention to cause anxiety or harm, to simply engaging in a reckless act.
The new criminal penalties are on par with child pornography and terror financing offences.
Additionally, anyone who piggy-backs off such a crisis by engaging in a reckless hoax would also face 10 years behind bars.
The offence would extend to people who provide false reports or make jokes in poor taste on Facebook.
"It's not a joke, it's not funny, you are putting the livelihoods of hard-working Australians at risk and you are scaring children, you're a coward and you're a grub." Mr Morrison said.
"If you do that sort of thing in this country, we will come after you and we will throw the book at you."
Mr Morrison wants the laws to pass Parliament by the time it rises on Thursday evening.
"I don't care if you've got a gripe with a company, I don't care whether you've got a gripe with your fellow worker, this is a very serious thing," he said.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the sanctions would not be applied retrospectively to those responsible for the existing strawberry saga.
"But the reason we are doing this so quickly is ... this sends a massive deterrence message to anyone out there who would further cripple this industry."
US and Australian archaeologists hunting for Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour may have finally discovered its location on the east coast of America.
The search in Newport Harbour, Rhode Island, has pinpointed one or two potential archaeological sites.
The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project and the Australian National Maritime Museum teamed up to search for the HMS Endeavour and will announce their results at an event in Rhode Island on Friday.
A Northern California jury today found guilty a career criminal thought to be the "Gypsy Hill Killer" of raping and murdering two teenage girls more than 42 years ago.
The San Mateo County jury deliberated for a little more than an hour before finding Rodney Halbower guilty.
Authorities believe the 69-year-old is responsible for other rapes and murders of young women in Northern California and Reno, Nevada, over a five-month span in 1976. In 2004, advances in DNA technology connected Halbower to the murders. He was in an Oregon prison at the time.
Halbower is scheduled to be sentenced on October 10 in Redwood City, about 40 kilometres south of San Francisco. The judge is required to sentence Halbower under the sentencing laws of 1976, the year the crimes occurred.
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the stiffest sentence available then was life with the possibility of parole. Mr Wagstaffe said the judge can impose consecutive sentences, meaning if Halbower was given parole for one murder, he would start serving the life sentence for the second.
"Our expectation is that this monster of a killer will never, ever, be allowed to be free on our streets again," Mr Wagstaffe said.
The six murders remained a mystery for four decades until a cold-case detective re-opened the investigation. He scraped DNA samples from cigarette butts found at the scene and in 2014 they were discovered to match Halbower's genetic makeup. DNA taken from the victims also matched Halbower's DNA, prosecutors told jurors.
It took four years to start Halbower's after he was charged with two of the murders. He routinely fired his attorneys and demanded to represent himself. A judge also ordered a trial to determine if he was sane enough to stand trial. A jury in 2017 found him sane.
The start of the murder trial almost ended as soon as it started on September 7 with Halbower disrupting the proceedings.
"I am not guilty!" he yelled at the jury. "I have never raped or murdered in my life!"
The judge declined public defender John Halley's calls for a mistrial and Halbower ceased his outbursts.
"He doesn't get to set up his own mistrial," Judge Mark Forcum said.
He stopped the outbursts after that and Wagstaffe said Halbower calmly congratulated prosecutor Sean Gallagher after the verdicts were read.
Prosecutors said they charged him with the two murders with the strongest evidence and expected he would be locked up for life if convicted.
Mr Gallagher told the jury about the two teen girls who were abducted, raped and killed in a once-tranquil suburb, and that DNA from semen found in both women and preserved for decades matched Halbower's DNA. One of the victims was stabbed to death and the other was beaten in the head with concrete and stabbed in her heart.
Authorities in the 1970s said the killings were linked and dubbed the attacker the Gypsy Hill Killer for the location where one of the first victims was found. Halbower is also suspected of raping and killing a nursing student in Reno during the same period as the five California killings.
It's possible that Halbower would never have been linked to the attacks had he not escaped from a Nevada prison in December 1986. He made his way to Oregon, where he was arrested on suspicion of rape and attempted murder within days of his escape.
An Oregon jury convicted Halbower and sentenced him to 15 years in prison in that state. First, he was returned to Nevada to finish that state's prison term.
When Nevada paroled him in 2013, he was sent back to Oregon, where prison officials took a DNA sample and submitted it to the national database investigators use to revive stalled investigations. Authorities say the results linked him to the Gypsy Hill case.
Court records show Halbower has spent the past 53 years in prison or on the lam.