1) U.S. URGING VENEZUELAN MILITARY TO DEFECT
The United States, in direct communication with members of Venezuela’s military, is urging them to abandon President Nicolas Maduro.
A senior White House official said the U.S. is also preparing new sanctions against Maduro, aimed at increasing pressure on him.
The Trump administration expects further military defections from Maduro’s side despite only a few senior officers defecting since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president last month.
The official declined to provide details on the discussions or the level at which the communications are being held, and it was unclear whether such contact could spur defections from the military.
2) TRUMP SAYS NORTH KOREA TALKS PRODUCTIVE, SUMMIT IN HANOI
President Donald Trump said that U.S. diplomats had a very productive meeting with North Korean officials, and announced that the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be held in Hanoi, Vietnam.
In a twitter post, Trump said the meeting will take place on February 27 and 28.
With only a few weeks to go before the meeting, the two sides appeared to be far from narrowing down differences over U.S. demands for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
Stephen Biegun, U.S. special representative for North Korea, said the talks would aim at seeking progress on commitments made in the last summit in Singapore in June last year.
3) THAI PRINCESS’ POLITICAL BID SUNK BY HER KING BROTHER
Thailand’s king Maha Vajiralongkorn has shut down Princess Ubolratana Mahidol’s bid to become prime minister.
He said the move was inappropriate because it violated tradition and the constitution, which keep the monarchy from meddling in politics.
The royal order from the king was read on national television late Friday night, effectively putting a stop to the move by his older sister.
The turnaround of events was seen as startling because the siblings are thought to be close and it was surprising that Ubolratana would make her move without her brother’s permission.
King Vajiralongkorn tried to soften the blow by acknowledging that his 67 year-old sister has already relinquished her formal royal titles, and praised her for her charity work and earning the love of her family and the Thai people.tv.