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April 6, 2013 at 9:02 AM   |   Comments

No embassies closing in North Korea

PYONGYANG, North Korea, April 6 (UPI) -- No foreign embassies have yet chosen to leave Pyongyang despite warnings from North Korea, officials say.

Saying their safety could not guaranteed if war broke out, North Korea's foreign ministry had asked embassies in the nation's capital to leave, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Saturday.

The warning is North Korea's way of "ratcheting up tension in the Korean Peninsula," a South Korean government official said.

Officials in Seoul said Pyongyang appeared to be saying "it's going to be an enemy, not North Korea, that will launch an attack." They described the tactic as "a propaganda war to dump responsibility for the instability on the peninsula on the U.S."

The BBC reported North Korea's foreign ministry asked foreign embassies to say by April 10 if they would need help evacuating.

Russia responded by asking if the statement was an offer of help or an indication Pyongyang had made a decision.

Both Russia and the United Kingdom say they don't have immediate plans to evacuate their embassies in Pyongyang.


Obama outlines budget proposal

WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday the budget he will send to Congress makes tough choices with a balanced approach.

"We need fewer self-inflicted wounds from Washington," the president said in his weekly radio and Internet address, "like the across-the-board" sequestration spending cuts that he said economists predict will cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs.

He said "smarter choices" are needed "if we want to keep rebuilding this economy on a stronger, sturdier foundation for growth."

The president touted the jobs created in the past three years but acknowledged more needs to be done "to get the economy growing faster, so that everybody who wants a job can find one." The latest jobless figures this week showed unemployment at 7.6 percent, with the rate softened by the exclusion of millions who have given up looking for work or stuck in part-time jobs.

"This week, I'll send a budget to Congress that will help do just that -- a fiscally responsible blueprint for middle-class jobs and growth," he said.

His budget, Obama said, will cut deficits while making investments he says are needed to get the economy going.

"We don't have to choose between these goals -- we can do both," he said, adding, "nothing reduces deficits faster than a growing economy that creates good jobs.

"My budget will reduce our deficits further -- not with aimless, reckless spending cuts that hurt students and seniors and middle-class families -- but through the balanced approach that the American people prefer, and the investments a growing economy demands."

Obama said "our deficits are already shrinking at the fastest rate in decades." He said his budget will provide for another $2 trillion in reductions on top of the more than $2.5 trillion already put in place.


China's change on N. Korea may help U.S.

WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) -- China is being pressured by the Obama administration to rein in North Korea or face an increased American military presence in the region, officials say.

The U.S. is ratcheting up the diplomatic heat as it perceives Beijing becoming frustrated with the regime in Pyongyang, The New York Times reported Friday.

China has not protested publicly or privately as the U.S. sent ships, airplanes and military equipment into the region in the wake of North Korean threats. The White House has viewed that lack of reaction, officials say, as a sign of Beijing's flagging support for its wayward Communist neighbor and of concerns unrestrained backing of Pyongyang will hurt ties with Washington.

China's position on North Korea appears to be "evolving," said Tom Donilon, President Obama's national security adviser. The timing of U.S. contacts with China's fledgling leader, Xi Jinping, about North Korea "will be an important early exercise between the United States and China," Donilon said.

China has proved to be an enigma in Washington's calculations of the Asian giant's true feelings about the North. It has sometimes failed to act after appearing to respond to U.S. entreaties. In the current crisis, China has expressed concerns over the rising level of tension even as its statements have tried not to add to the status of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.


Trayvon Martin's parents settle lawsuit

SANFORD, Fla., April 6 (UPI) -- The parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager killed by George Zimmerman, have settled their lawsuit against a Florida homeowners association.

The terms had not been released, The New York Times reported Friday. The homeowners' association at The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla., did not admit any responsibility for 17-year-old Trayvon's death.

Zimmerman, who says he acted in self-defense, is awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge. Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, have said they plan to sue him for wrongful death later.

Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said Trayvon's parents turned down $1 million from the homeowners association earlier this year.

The settlement was filed with the court in Seminole County.

Trayvon, who was staying with a relative in the gated community, was killed on Feb. 26, 2012, as he walked home from a store. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who apparently ignored a police dispatcher's suggestion to back off, says Trayvon attacked him.

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