Kim Jong Un to arrive in Vietnam on February 25 ahead of Trump summit

HANOI (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will arrive in Vietnam on Feb. 25 ahead of a planned second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, three sources with direct knowledge of Kim’s schedule told Reuters on Saturday.

Trump and Kim are due to meet in Hanoi on Feb. 27 and 28 following their historic first meeting last June in Singapore. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday Washington aims to “get as far down the road as we can” at the summit.

Kim will meet with Vietnamese officials when he arrives in Hanoi, said the sources, who requested anonymity citing the sensitivity and secrecy surrounding the movements of the North Korean leader.

He will also visit the Vietnamese manufacturing base of Bac Ninh and the industrial port town of Hai Phong, one source said.

Vietnam’s president and general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong, will meet Kim ahead of a planned trip by Trong to neighboring Laos, one of the sources with direct knowledge told Reuters.

A Reuters witness saw Kim’s close aide, Kim Chang Son, in Hanoi on Saturday visiting a government guesthouse and the Metropole and Melia hotels in the center of the capital.

Reuters was first to report last month that Hanoi was preparing to receive Kim for a state visit this month.

Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has embraced economic reforms and developed close diplomatic ties with its former foe the United States, has been widely touted as a model of reform for isolated and impoverished North Korea.

The former Cold War allies, which share a similar socialist ideology and exchanged military and political support during the Vietnam War, are eyeing a new chapter in relations following Hanoi’s opening up and embrace of the West.

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U.S. raises pressure on Maduro via sanctions, aid airlift

WASHINGTON/MUNICH (Reuters) – The United States ratcheted up pressure on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday by sanctioning some of his top security officials and the head of the state oil company, and unveiling plans to airlift over 200 tons of aid to the Colombian border.

The U.S. Treasury said it sanctioned PDVSA chief Manuel Quevedo, three top intelligence officials and Rafael Bastardo, who U.S. officials say is the head of a national police unit responsible for dozens of extrajudicial killings carried out in nighttime raids on Maduro’s behalf.

Separately, the U.S. State Department said on Friday it was working with the Pentagon and U.S. aid agency to fly humanitarian assistance on Saturday to Cucuta, Colombia, on the Venezuelan border.

The steps are part of a wider effort by the United States to undermine Maduro, whose 2018 election it views as illegitimate and whose government it has disavowed, and to strengthen opposition leader and self-declared president Juan Guaido.

Quevedo said on Twitter the Venezuelan officials were being sanctioned for guaranteeing peace, building homes and condemning the “coup and military plan of the United States, its allies” and Guaido.

U.S. military aircraft were expected to deliver more than 200 tons of humanitarian aid to the border town, a U.S. official said. The United States already has pre-positioned some relief supplies in Colombia and is coordinating with Guaido to mobilize aid for Venezuelans, a State Department spokeswoman said.

It was unclear whether any of the U.S. aid being ferried to Colombia would reach Venezuelans.

Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse in the oil-rich country that has left millions struggling to buy food and medicine and fueled an unprecedented migration crisis in the region, has refused to allow supplies in.

“This man Maduro has created a humanitarian crisis,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Reykjavik. “As soon as this weekend we will continue to deliver massive humanitarian assistance. Hopefully Mr. Maduro will allow that in to his country.”

The aid convoy dispatched by the United States and Colombia arrived in Cucuta last week, where it is being held in warehouses.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton worked to undermine Maduro on Friday, saying economic and political pressure was squeezing his top government officials and claiming without offering any evidence that “a clear majority, maybe almost all of them” were talking to the opposition about supporting Guaido or leaving the country.

Bolton appeared to confirm reports that Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza met in New York with U.S. special envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams, and suggested Maduro should ask himself what they talked about.

Bolton also said he thought “Russia and China are hedging” their support for Maduro because of concern about the Maduro government’s indebtedness to Moscow and Beijing.

Guaido invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself interim president last month, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was a sham. Most Western countries, including the United States and many of Venezuela’s neighbors, have recognized Guaido as the legitimate head of state.

Maduro retains the backing of Russia and China and control of Venezuelan state institutions including the military.

The U.S. Treasury took aim at some of Maduro’s allies with its sanctions on Friday.

“We are sanctioning officials in charge of Maduro’s security and intelligence apparatus, which has systematically violated human rights and suppressed democracy, including through torture,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Also targeted was Ivan Hernandez, commander of Maduro’s Presidential Guard, which Treasury says has tortured Maduro’s opponents and carried out other human rights abuses.

Manuel Cristopher, director general of Venezuela’s Sebin intelligence agency, and Hildemaro Rodriguez, first commissioner of the service, also were sanctioned.

The Treasury’s action freezes all property in the United States belonging to the five sanctioned officials as well as that of any entities in which they own 50 percent or more.

In a sign that the Trump administration may be trying to split the men from Maduro, the Treasury Department noted in its statement that “U.S. sanctions need not be permanent; sanctions are intended to bring about a positive change of behavior.”

“The United States has made clear that we will consider lifting sanctions for persons … who take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order, refuse to take part in human rights abuses, speak out against abuses committed by the government, and combat corruption in Venezuela,” it said.

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U.S.-China trade talks to resume next week, Trump hints at extension

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and China will resume trade talks next week in Washington with time running short to ease their bruising trade war, but U.S. President Donald Trump repeated on Friday that he may extend a March 1 deadline for a deal and keep tariffs on Chinese goods from rising.

Both the United States and China reported progress in five days of negotiations in Beijing this week.

Trump, speaking at a White House news conference, said the United States was closer than ever before to “having a real trade deal” with China and said he would be “honored” to remove tariffs if an agreement can be reached.

But he added that the talks were “very complicated.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Friday the two economic superpowers “will continue working on all outstanding issues in advance of the March 1, 2019, deadline.

“These detailed and intensive discussions led to progress between the two parties. Much work remains, however,” Sanders said about the Beijing talks.

She added that the two countries agreed to state any commitments they make in a memorandum of understanding.

U.S. duties on $200 billion in imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal is reached by March 1 to address U.S. demands that China curb forced technology transfers and better enforce intellectual property rights.

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SAME TARIFF RATE

Trump, asked whether he would grant Beijing a 60-day extension to the deadline, said: “There is a possibility that I will extend the date. “But if I do that – if I see that we’re close to a deal or the deal is going in the right direction – I would do that at the same tariffs that we’re charging now, I would not increase the tariffs.”

Trump also said he would consider bringing top U.S. Democrats – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer – into the final stages of the talks to minimize their dissent with the deal. Spokespersons for the two lawmakers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The conclusion of the Beijing talks prompted optimism on Wall Street, where major stock indexes were broadly higher, led by financial services shares.

The U.S. China Business Council, which represents American companies doing business in China, applauded the announcement that the two sides would put specific language in a memorandum of understanding.

“Any agreement must be detailed, enforceable, time-bound, and result in market-access improvements that have a meaningful impact for American companies, workers, and farmers,” the group’s president, Craig Allen, said in a statement.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Friday that China and the United States had reached a “consensus in principle” on some key issues, adding they had a detailed discussion on a memorandum of understanding on trade and economic issues. It gave no details.

The countries focused this week on technology, intellectual property rights, agriculture, services, non-tariff barriers and currency, and discussed potential Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services to reduce a “large and persistent bilateral trade deficit,” Sanders said.

MEETING WITH XI

Chinese President Xi Jinping met U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday after a week of talks at senior and deputy levels, and called for a deal both sides could accept, Chinese state media said.

After talks on Thursday, Mnuchin said on Twitter that he and Lighthizer had held “productive meetings” with Xi’s top economic adviser, Vice Premier Liu He.

“The consultations between the two sides’ teams achieved important step-by-step progress,” Xi said, according to state television.

“I hope you will continue efforts to advance reaching a mutually beneficial, win-win agreement,” Xi said at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

He added that China was willing to take a “cooperative approach” to settling bilateral trade frictions.

Lighthizer told Xi the senior officials had “two very good days” of talks.

“We feel that we have made headway on very, very important, and very difficult issues. We have additional work to do but we are hopeful,” Lighthizer told Xi in a pool video shown to foreign media.

“A LOT OF DISTANCE”

Neither country has offered new details on how they might de-escalate the tariff war that has roiled financial markets and disrupted manufacturing supply chains.

Although Trump said this week that an extension of the tariff deadline was possible if a “real deal” was close, Larry Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, has said the White House had made no such decision.

But several sources informed about the meetings told Reuters there was little indication negotiators had made major progress on sticking points to pave the way for a potential meeting between Xi and Trump in coming weeks to hammer out a deal.

“Stalemate on the important stuff,” said one source. All of the sources requested anonymity because the talks are confidential.

“There’s still a lot of distance between parties on structural and enforcement issues,” said a second source. “I wouldn’t quite call it hitting a wall, but it’s not a field of dreams either.”

A third source told Reuters the White House was “irate” over earlier reports that the Trump administration was considering a 60-day extension of the tariff deadline.

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China's Xi: trade talks with U.S. to continue in Washington next week

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday trade talks with the United States will continue in Washington next week and that he hopes the two sides will be able to reach a mutually beneficial deal in the upcoming negotiations, state media reported.

Xi said during a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that talks in Beijing this week made progress and that China is willing to solve economic and trade disputes with the United States via cooperation, according to a report by Xinhua.

Lighthizer and Mnuchin said during the meeting that they maintain hope although there is still much work to be done, and that they are willing to work with China to reach a deal that is in line with the interests of both countries, according to Xinhua.

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U.S. senators to try again to pass Russia sanctions bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced a bill on Wednesday that would impose stiff new sanctions on Russia over its meddling in U.S. elections and aggression against Ukraine, the latest congressional effort to push President Donald Trump to ratchet up Washington’s response to Moscow.

It was introduced by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, as well as other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is a tougher version of legislation – dubbed the “sanctions bill from hell” by Graham – the two lawmakers backed last year but which failed to pass.

The new bill, which was first reported by Reuters, may have a better chance of passing Congress now, either as a whole or as amendments to other legislation, in the face of growing bipartisan anger over Russia’s interference in other countries’ affairs.

Trump, who has gone along with some previous congressional efforts to increase sanctions on Russia, though sometimes reluctantly, would have to sign the bill before it became law.

“President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress,” Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the bill.

Targets of the sanctions would include: Russian banks that support efforts to interfere in foreign elections; the country’s cyber sector; new sovereign debt; and individuals deemed to “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”

The bill also would impose several strict measures on Russia’s oil and gas sector, which makes up about 40 percent of the Russian government’s revenues, including sanctioning people who provide goods, services or financing to support the development of crude oil in the country. Russian state-owned energy projects outside of Russia including investments in liquefied natural gas projects also would face sanctions.

Global energy companies including BP, Shell and ENI are likely to oppose the bill as are U.S.-based companies including Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp . BP owns nearly 20 percent in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer.

Brian O’Toole, who worked on sanctions at the U.S. Treasury under former President Barack Obama, said the bill is a salvo in Congress’ negotiations with the Trump administration over Russia, although some provisions, particularly on energy, must be watered down to get enough support to pass.

“But I think there is an appetite to be angry with Russia right now, not just from the Democratic side,” O’Toole said.

CONFRONTING TRUMP

Members of Congress, including many of Trump’s fellow Republicans, have pushed the president to act more forcefully against Moscow during his presidency, which has been shadowed by Russia-related probes.

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and Moscow’s possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Russia has denied interfering in the election and Trump has called the probe a witch hunt.

The Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority, narrowly failed last month to pass a resolution disapproving of Trump’s easing of sanctions on Russian companies tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Supporters of the effort vowed to try again.

Menendez said Congress wanted action to respond to the humanitarian disaster in Syria, where Russia backs President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, “and the steady erosion of international norms.”

“One thing is increasingly clear: Moscow will continue to push until it meets genuine resistance,” Menendez said.

Graham, a leading Republican congressional foreign policy voice and Trump ally, said he was determined to send a strong message to Moscow.

“Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia,” Graham said in a statement. “He should cease and desist meddling in the U.S. electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.”

The bill, the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act,” known as DASKA, would create U.S. policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. It would also require a report on Putin’s net worth and assets.

It includes strong support for NATO, including requiring a two-thirds majority in the Senate in order for the United States to leave the alliance. It includes provisions to make it easier to transfer excess military equipment to NATO countries to reduce their dependences on Russian products.

The bill was also introduced by Republican Senator Cory Gardner and Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Jeanne Shaheen.

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Wire fox terrier wins top prize at Westminster dog show in New York

(Reuters) – A wire fox terrier won “Best in Show” at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York on Tuesday, emerging as the top dog among nearly 3,000 barking, tail-wagging competitors.

The animal, named King, captured the most coveted prize at the two-day event at Madison Square Garden, besting challengers from all 50 U.S. states and 14 countries. The competition drew 2,800 dogs from 203 breeds and varieties.

He won the terrier group and claimed the top trophy over finalists from five other groups. The winner of the non-sporting canine group, a schipperke, was ruled ineligible before the “Best in Show” competition began.

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Lovers, comrades! Forbidden love in North Korea finds a way in Vietnam

HANOI (Reuters) – A young couple with matching expressions stare nervously into the camera with deep brown eyes. He, a Vietnamese student, has just met the love of his life. She, a North Korean, is forbidden to love him back.

It was 31 years after Pham Ngoc Canh, 69, took that first photo of Yong Hui, before the two were finally allowed to get married in 2002 when North Korea took the rare step of allowing one of its citizens to marry a foreigner.

“From the moment I saw him, I was so sad because I felt it would be a love that could never be realized,” said Ri, 70, speaking from the small Soviet-era apartment she and Canh share in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.

Now enjoying freedoms in Vietnam that would be impossible in North Korea, Canh and Ri are hoping the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi will help end hostilities with Pyongyang.

“If you’re a North Korean, you want to see this resolved. But politics is complicated,” Ri said. “When people first heard Kim Jong Un decided to meet Trump, they expected reunification to happen soon. But that’s hard to realize in just one or two days. I hope things work out well.”

Today one of Asia’s fastest growing economies and integrated into the international community, Vietnam has been touted as a model for isolated and impoverished North Korea to follow.

Back in 1967, as Vietnam and the United States were locked in war, Canh was one of 200 Vietnamese students sent to North Korea to gain the skills the state needed to rebuild itself once the war was over.

Several years later, during a chemical engineering apprenticeship at a fertilizer factory on North Korea’s east coast, Canh spotted Ri working in a laboratory.

“I thought to myself, ‘I must marry that girl’,” said Canh, who eventually plucked up the courage to approach Ri and ask her for her address.

Ri obliged: Her friends had told her one of the “Viet Cong” working at the factory looked just like her, and she was curious.

“As soon as I saw him, I knew it was him,” said Ri. “He looked so gorgeous”.

“Until then, when I had seen so-called handsome guys I hadn’t felt anything, but when he opened the door, my heart just melted”.

But there were challenges. Until this day in North Korea, and in Vietnam at the time, relationships with foreigners are strictly forbidden.

GUERRILLA ACTION

After the couple exchanged several letters, Ri agreed to let Canh visit her at home.

He had to be careful. A Vietnamese comrade had been beaten when he had been found with a local girl.

Dressed in North Korean clothes, Canh embarked on the three-hour bus journey and two km walk to Ri’s home – a trip he repeated monthly until he returned to Vietnam in 1973.

“I went to her house secretly, just like a guerrilla,” said Canh.

Upon his return to Hanoi, Canh felt disillusioned. The son of a high-ranking cadre, Canh refused to join the Communist Party, forgoing the bright future the state had planned for him.

“I just couldn’t agree with a socialism that stops people from loving each other,” Canh said.

Five years later, in 1978, the Vietnamese chemical engineering institute Canh was attached to organized a trip to North Korea.

He asked to join, and managed to meet Ri. But every time they saw each other, Ri said, she became more heartbroken at the thought that they might never meet again.

He had brought with him a letter he had written to the North Korean leadership, begging for permission for them to marry.

“When she saw the letter, she asked: ‘Comrade, do you intend to persuade my government?”, said Canh, who never sent the letter and instead asked Ri to wait for him.

THE WEDDING

Later that year, Vietnam invaded Cambodia, triggering a border war with China. With North Korea on the side of Beijing and Phnom Penh, the couple stopped writing.

“My mother was crying while caring for me,” said Ri. “I think she knew that I was lovesick.”

In 1992, Canh again managed to get himself on a trip to North Korea as a translator with a Vietnamese sporting delegation, but couldn’t meet Ri. When he returned to Hanoi, found Ri had sent him a letter.

She still loved him.

In the late 1990s, North Korea was gripped by a devastating famine and a desperate delegation from Pyongyang visited Hanoi to ask for rice. Vietnam, which by then had undertaken major economic and political reforms and re-engaged with the West, refused.

Canh was so concerned for Ri and her people that he raised seven tonnes of rice in donations from friends to send to North Korea.

It was an act of generosity which finally paved the way for he and Ri to reunite: The North Koreans learned of Canh’s act and agreed he could marry Ri and live in either country – provided Ri maintained her North Korean citizenship.

In 2002, the two finally married in the Vietnamese embassy in Pyongyang, and settled into their new life together in Hanoi, where they still live today.

“In the end, love beat socialism,” said Canh.

(This story was refiled to include dropped quotation mark in par 3)

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Drug lord, escape artist 'El Chapo' convicted by U.S. jury

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The world’s most infamous cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who rose from poverty in rural Mexico to amass billions of dollars, was found guilty in a U.S. court on Tuesday of smuggling tons of drugs to the United States over a violent, colorful, decades-long career.

Jurors in federal court in Brooklyn convicted Guzman, 61, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, on all 10 counts brought by U.S. prosecutors.

Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said he expected Guzman to receive life without parole when sentenced on June 25. “It is a sentence from which there is no escape and no return,” Donoghue told reporters.

Guzman, one of the major figures in Mexican drug wars that have roiled the country since 2006, become almost legendary for escaping from Mexican high-security jails twice and avoiding massive manhunts. He cultivated a Robin Hood image among the poor in his home state of Sinaloa.

Guzman sat and showed no emotion while the verdict was read. Once the jury left the room, he and his wife Emma Coronel, put their hands to their hearts and gave each other the thumbs up sign. His wife shed tears.

Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” was extradited to the United States for trial in 2017 after he was arrested in Mexico the year before.

Though other high-ranking cartel figures had been extradited previously, Guzman was the first to go to trial instead of pleading guilty.

The 11-week trial, with testimony from more than 50 witnesses, offered an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel, named for the state in northwestern Mexico where Guzman was born in a poor mountain village.

The U.S. government said Guzman trafficked tons of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the United States over more than two decades, consolidating his power in Mexico through murders and wars with rival cartels.

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Small in stature, Guzman’s smuggling exploits, the violence he used and the sheer size of his illicit business made Guzman the world’s most notorious drug baron since Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, who was shot dead by police in 1993.

Guzman’s lawyers say he was set up as a “fall guy” by Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, a powerful drug lord from Sinaloa who remains at large.

Jeffrey Lichtman, a lawyer for Guzman, told reporters after the verdict that the defense faced an uphill fight, given the amount of evidence the government presented, and the widespread perception that Guzman was already guilty.

“This was a case that was literally an avalanche, avalanche of evidence,” Lichtman said. “Of course we’re going to appeal.”

DRUG WARS

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was elected last year after promising a change to the deadly military-led war against drug gangs, suggesting a negotiated peace and amnesty for non-violent drug dealers, traffickers and farmers.

The most detailed evidence against Guzman came from more than a dozen former associates who struck deals to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors.

They told jurors how the Sinaloa Cartel gained power in the 1990s, eventually coming to control almost the entire Pacific coast of Mexico.

Guzman made a name for himself in the 1980s by building cross-border tunnels that allowed him to move cocaine from Mexico into the United States faster than anyone else.

The witnesses, who included some of Guzman’s top lieutenants, a communications engineer and a onetime mistress, described how he built a sophisticated organization reminiscent of a multinational corporation.

He sent drugs northward with fleets of planes and boats, and had detailed accounting ledgers and an encrypted electronic communication system run through secret computer servers in Canada, the court heard.

Guzman’s attempt to take territory from a rival cartel was one of the main reasons for an explosion of drug violence in Mexico. The government has registered more than 250,000 homicides since it launched an aggressive war on cartels in 2006. A report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service last year estimated 150,000 of those deaths were tied to organized crime.

A former bodyguard testified that he watched Guzman kill three rival drug cartel members, including one victim who he shot and then ordered to be buried even as he was still gasping for air.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan told the jurors after the verdict that it was up to them to decide to talk to the media, but that he would advise against it. “Once that door is open, it can’t be closed again,” he said. 

Estimates of how much money Guzman made from drugs vary. In 2009, Forbes Magazine put him on its list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated $1 billion. It later dropped him from the list, saying it was too difficult to quantify his assets.

The U.S. Justice Department said in 2017 it sought forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds and illicit profits from Guzman.

The most shocking allegation of corruption during the trial came from Guzman’s former top aide Alex Cifuentes, who accused former Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto of taking a $100 million bribe from Guzman. A spokesman for the ex-president has denied the claim.

In one of the trial’s final days, Guzman told the judge he would not testify in his own defense. The same day, he grinned broadly at audience member Alejandro Edda, the Mexican actor who plays Guzman in the Netflix drama “Narcos.”

Despite his ties to government officials, Guzman often lived on the run. Imprisoned in Mexico in 1993, he escaped in 2001 hidden in a laundry cart and spent the following years moving from one hideout to another in the mountains of Sinaloa, guarded by a private army.

He was seized again in 2014, but pulled off his best known escape the following year when he disappeared into a tunnel dug into his cell in a maximum security prison.

But the Mexican government says he blew his cover through a series of slip ups, including an attempt to make a movie about his life. He was finally recaptured in January 2016.

Despite Guzman’s downfall, the Sinaloa Cartel still has the biggest U.S. distribution presence of Mexican cartels, followed by the fast-growing Jalisco New Generation Cartel, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Together, they are the biggest producers of drugs sold on U.S. streets.

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U.S. still probing journalist Khashoggi murder: Pompeo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The U.S. government will continue investigating the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a visit to Hungary on Monday.

“America is not covering up for a murder,” he said, adding that the United States would take more action to hold accountable all those responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

The U.S.-based Saudi journalist was slain inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. After initially denying his death, Saudi Arabia has confirmed that its agents killed him but denied its senior leaders were behind the killing.

The Trump administration had faced a Feb. 8 deadline to submit a report to Congress on who was responsible for Khashoggi’s death and whether Washington would impose sanctions on those behind the killing.

On Friday, a State Department representative said Pompeo had briefed U.S. lawmakers on the murder investigation but gave no other details.

Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, on Sunday said the required report was not submitted.

“This amounts to the Trump administration aiding in the cover-up of a murder,” Kaine said in a statement on Sunday. “America should never descend to this level of moral bankruptcy.”

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