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  • President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon says there's no military solution to the threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, despite the president's recent pledge to answer further aggression with "fire and fury".
  • In an interview with The American Prospect posted online Wednesday, Bannon tells the liberal publication that the US is losing the economic race against China. He also talks about purging his rivals from the Defense and State departments.
  • Bannon is also asked about the white supremacist movement, whose march on Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend led to deadly violence. He dismisses them as "losers," "a fringe element" and "a collection of clowns."
  • The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
  • "There's no military solution (to North Korea's nuclear threats), forget it," Bannon says. "Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don't know what you're talking about, there's no military solution here, they got us."
  • Trump tweeted earlier Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "made a very wise and well-reasoned decision" by backing down after heightening fears of nuclear conflict in a series of combative threats, including against the US territory of Guam.
  • Bannon also outlined his push for the US to adopt a tougher stance on China trade, without waiting to see whether Beijing will help restrain Kim, as Trump has pressed China's leader to do. Trump also has lamented US trade deficits with China.
  • "The economic war with China is everything," Bannon says. "And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we're five years away, I think, 10 years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we'll never be able to recover."

  • North Korea said on 15Aug that its military presented leader Kim Jong Un with plans to launch intermediate-range missiles into waters near Guam and "wring the windpipes of the Yankees" by creating "enveloping fire" near the key US military hub in the Pacific.
  • The comments, while typically belligerent, are significant because they also appeared to signal a path to defuse a deepening crisis with Washington over a weapons program that is seen as nearing the ability to accurately send a nuclear missile to the US mainland.
  • During an inspection of the army's Strategic Forces, which handles the missile program, Kim praised the military for drawing up a "close and careful plan" and said he would watch the "foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" a little more before deciding whether to order the missile test, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said.
  • Kim appeared in photos sitting at a table with a large map marked by a straight line between what appeared to be northeastern North Korea and Guam, and passing over Japan apparently showing the missiles' flight route.

  • Nepal and China today signed three pacts to further boost their ties in power and energy sectors and undertake a feasibility study to excavate natural gas and petroleum in the Himalayan country, including in the southern Terai plains.
  • The pacts were signed after visiting Chinese vice premier Wang Yang held discussions with Nepal's deputy prime ministers Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar and Krishna Bahadur Mahara.
  • The agreements cover three different domains - economic and technological cooperation, China-aid oil and gas resources survey project and framework agreement on promotion of investment and economic cooperation, Nepal's state-run National News Agency reported.
  • They include a feasibility study for excavating natural gas and petroleum in mountain areas and plains of the Terai region.
  • The two countries agreed to establish hydropower projects and transmission lines and take steps for economic and technological development in Nepal, which suffers from acute shortage of electricity.
  • Finance Secretary Shanta Raj Subedi told the agency the pacts would make significant contributions in Nepal's socio- economic transformation.

  • China will halt iron, iron ore and seafood imports from North Korea starting 15aug as it implements new UN sanctions, the commerce ministry said14 Aug.
  • Beijing had pledged to fully enforce the latest sanctions against its diplomatic ally after coming under pressure from the United States to do more to compel Pyongyang to drop its nuclear weapons programmer.
  • The ministry said on its website that all imports of coal, iron, iron ore and seafood will be "completely prohibited" from 15 Aug.
  • The announcement follows days of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un's regime, which has raised international alarm.
  • The United Nations Security Council, including permanent member Beijing, approved tough sanctions against Pyongyang on August 6 that could cost the hermetic country $1 billion a year.

  • President Donald Trump on 12 Aug reassured Guam it was secure amid mounting regional tensions, vowing that American military forces "stand ready" to safeguard the US Pacific island territory against a belligerent North Korea.
  • The North has threatened to fire ballistic missiles over Japan toward the tourism-dependent idyllic island, as Pyongyang and Washington ratchet up their war of words.
  • With Guam's safety in the balance, Trump assured the territory's Governor Eddie Calvo: "We are with you 1000 percent, you are safe."
  • A member of Trump's Republican Party, Calvo insisted during the two men's call that "I have never felt more safe or so confident with you at the helm," according to his office.
  • "We're going to do a great job, don't worry about a thing," Trump then added. "They should have had me eight years ago, or somebody with my thought process."