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North Korea has threatened to withdraw from a landmark summit with the US if Washington continues to pressure it to “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear weapons programme.
The comments from Kim Kye Gwan, vice foreign minister, form part of a flurry of missives from the regime, which castigated South Korean and US officials — in particular John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser — and highlighted the perils of dealing with the reclusive nation.
“If they try to corner us and pressure us unilaterally to give up nuclear weapons, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue. We will have to reconsider whether to participate in the upcoming North Korea-US talks,” Mr Kim was quoted as saying by the North’s Korean Central News Agency.
The official’s comments follow an announcement from Pyongyang earlier in the day that it was scrapping high-level talks with Seoul scheduled for Wednesday in response to joint South Korea-US military drills which it termed “a provocative military ruckus”. (FT, BBC)
In the news
Justice Department and FBI investigate Cambridge Analytica
The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are probing Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct political data firm, as well as “associated US persons”, and are said to have sought to question former employees and banks that handled its business. In the UK, MPs today will grill the head of Canadian company AggregateIQ about “fake news.” (NYT, Observer)
Oil demand to slow
The International Energy Agency said rising crude prices would restrain oil demand growth as it warned of a price spike due to a potential “ double supply shortfall ” from Iran and Venezuela. The agency revised lower its assumption for 2018 oil consumption growth to 1.4m barrels a day — from a prior estimate of 1.5m b/d — with total demand expected at 99.2m b/d. (FT)
Fifa is preparing to call a vote on a $25bn proposal that promises a huge windfall for football clubs and national teams should they agree to reshape the sport with two new global tournaments. (FT)
Turning the euro clock back
The Five-Star Movement and the League, Italy’s two leading populist parties currently locked in talks to form a coalition government, want to return to a “ pre-Maastricht setting ” in European economic policy — before the introduction of the single currency and common fiscal rules. (FT)
British MPs demanded the UK’s big four accountancy firms be referred to competition authorities for potential break-up following the collapse of government contractor Carillion, calling them a “cosy club incapable of providing the degree of independent challenge needed”. (FT)
With a rapidly ageing population and a shrinking workforce, Japan is one of the world’s oldest societies. Now analysts fear that these demographics are hampering economic growth. (FT)
There’s been a lot of discussion about paywalls in western media but how do they work in authoritarian countries? Russia’s experience shows that charging for news can ensure independence but limit influence (Bloomberg)
RIP Tom Wolfe
The pioneer of “New Journalism”, who transformed the faces of both journalism and the novel, has died in New York, aged 88. (FT)
The day ahead
US retailer results
While US earnings season is beginning to wind down, with just 10 companies listed in the S&P 500 slated to report results this week, retailers are only just getting started as Macy’s unofficially kicks things off on Wednesday. Analysts at Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock last week, citing “ongoing negative store comps and continued decline in return on invested capital”. They are also “cautious” on the sector as a whole. (FT)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.
What we’re reading
Assange and ‘Operation Hotel’
Ecuador spent at least $5m on a spy operation to protect and support Julian Assange in its London embassy, using an international security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and even the British police, according to a Guardian investigation. (Guardian)
Facebook flirts with decentralisation
The social media giant’s interest in “counter-trends” to centralisation, such as encryption and cryptocurrency, has stepped up a gear. A team is experimenting with blockchain, the decentralised digital ledger technology, that could offer a new way to record transactions without having to go through a central authority, such as Facebook’s own servers. (FT)
Mahathir and Malaysia
Can the 92-year-old prime-minister succeed in delivering change for young voters? (NAR)
‘World’s largest 3D printer’
Titomic, an Australian company, unveiled what it said was the world’s largest and fastest metal 3D printer — a development it said could revolutionise the advanced manufacturing industry. The bus-sized printer is capable of making complex aircraft wing parts of up to nearly 9m in length. (FT)
Body clock linked to mental disorders
Research in The Lancet journal found a disrupted body clock was linked with depression, bipolar disorder and other problems. The researchers said it was a warning to societies becoming less in tune with these natural rhythms. (BBC)
Video of the day
How GDPR works
Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation is a landmark law that forces companies and consumers to focus on how we treat the most valuable assets of our digital age: data. Understanding how it works is essential for individuals and business. (FT)