welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is nkem ifejika. our top stories: hand delivered to the white house — a personal letterfrom kimjong—un — as president trump confirms the singapore summit is back on. i think we're going to have a relationship and it after weeks of political uncertainty, italy has a new prime minister — giuseppe conte leads a controversial populist government. hello and welcome to the programme. the meeting between the united states and north korea is back on, for now at least. it follows the delivery of a letter from the north korean leader during a meeting at the white house between president trump and a close aide of kim jong—un. in a hint of the negotiations behind the scenes, mr trump said
he believes the north korean leader wants denuclearisation but also other things along the line. chris buckler is in washington. the white house made a point of doing everything but rolling out the red carpet to welcome a former north korean intelligence chief. in the past, the united states has accused kim yong—chol of crimes including an attacking killing dozens of south korean seamen. but today he was whisked through security to meet the president inside the oval office. and there, behind closed doors, he was handed the much talked about letter from kim jong—un. they emerged side—by—side after more than an hour of discussions. a remarkable sight given that last year the two countries appeared close to conflict. but after all that talk of war, there were brief smiles. it seems they're prepared to discuss peace after all. the summit is back on. we'll be meeting onjune i2 in singapore, it went very well, it's really a get—to—know—you kind of situation.
and i think it'll be a process. i never said it goes in one meeting, i think it will be a process. but the relationships are building, and that's a very positive thing. it's onlyjust over a week ago president trump sent his own letter, cancelling the summit on what he called north korea's "tremendous anger and open hostility. " but the last two days of talks between kim yong—chol and us secretary of state mike pompeo seems to have improved relations. but it's not clear whether they have agreed on an aim or even what denuclearisation means. do you think kim is committed to doing denuclearisation? i do think so, he would like to see it happen, he wants to be careful, he is not going to run and do things, but i told him to be honest with you, look, we have sanctions on, very powerful sanctions, we would not take sanctions off unless they did that. if kim jong—un‘s letter did make a difference,
it was the gesture, not its contents. president trump hadn't taken it out of the envelope by the time he waved goodbye to the north korean leader's right—hand man. the comings and goings of diplomacy can be difficult to follow at this white house. giuseppe conte has been sworn in as italy's new prime minister. he'll lead a cabinet assembled by the country's two main populist parties. they are the anti—establishment five star movement and the right—wing league, and they've promised radical change. the swearing in follows months of political uncertainty, which has worried brussels and spooked financial markets. jenny hill sent this rome. jenny hill sent this from rome. it's the moment europe's been waiting for — a new italian prime minister. giuseppe conte, a law professor with no political experience. and, sworn in one by one, a new government, an anti—establishment coalition. it almost didn't happen at all. paolo savona, first choice
for foreign minister and fierce critic of the euro, was rejected by the italian president. after desperate talks, a compromise was made, for giovanni tria, a more moderate academic who will now oversee italy's finances. an end to uncertainty, then, but perhaps the drama is onlyjust beginning. the new government already controversial. it's promised to deport half a million migrants, to lower taxes, spend more on welfare. one thing to keep in mind is that italian governments hardly ever last the entire five—year legislature. i have no reason to believe that this will be any different, especially because you have two wildly different parties in this coalition. there's the far right league, which has a very tough stance on immigration, with the five star movement, which really has a little bit more left—wing sympathies, so that is an issue between them. translation: the new government, it will be fine. even if i voted for berlusconi, it will be fine.
we must change, at least we must try. translation: i hope this government will start well. we're living in a rather special moment, so i hope anyone can do well, can do better. we will see, but at least we should test them. the eurozone will be watching. the government rejects austerity, plans to spend its way to growth. all smiles today, but this country, with its huge debt, may yet have to do battle with the likes of brussels and berlin. jenny hill, bbc news, rome. spain has also a new prime minister after mariano rajoy was ousted in a vote of no confidence. his conservative people's party had been fined for its involvement in a corruption scandal. he will be succeeded by the opposition socialist leader, pedro sanchez, who will be sworn in later on saturday. so what the prospects for his new administration? so what are the prospects for his new administration?
the bbc‘s gavin lee is in madrid. is saying at the moment that he is offering a government which promises to be corruption free. but also keeping a budget in place for the next two years until the end of the next two years until the end of the next term, so not calling snap elections. the man they call "mr handsome", there are worse nicknames to have, pedro sanchez is saying he can drive forward spain with this new vision. it appears it is going to bea new vision. it appears it is going to be a new era, he is troubled —— promising radical changes to tv companies in spain, treatment towards migrants, migration policy, also when it comes to the vision that spain has as the catalan crisis, and whether it can lift the emergency rule there. this is a new era and we have seen an unprecedented moment today with the downfall of mariano rajoy. venezuela has released almost a0 opposition activists who'd spent months in detention. but many of them are still banned from giving interviews, posting material on social media and from leaving the country.
the opposition, which boycotted last month's presidential election, has demanded the release of all political prisoners. lebo diseko has more. an invitation for dialogue, says venezuela's government. a token gesture by a dictatorship, says its critics. this is the first of the 39 opposition activists to be released, seen here at a press conference organised by the state shortly before being allowed to go home. translation: we formally announce the beginning of this process and will continue working and we will gradually announce more measures of this nature. one person who wasn't released was leopoldo lopez, one of president maduro's most vocal critics. he's pictured here on house arrest before being taken by police and placed in detention. venezuela is in crisis. last year, there were months of running street battles between police and opposition protesters angry about changes to the constitution. it is facing tough sanctions from the us, eu and canada,
as well as neighbouring countries who say they are concerned about democracy. and its economy is on its knees, meaning queueing forfood and basic necessities is a daily reality. the opposition boycotted the recent election which saw mr maduro voted in for another six years. he promised to free some political opponents, to overcome the wounds left by last year's tension. by last yea r‘s protests. but as his country teeters on the brink of collapse, more work may need to be done to heal its bitter divide. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news. the united states has vetoed a un security council resolution calling for measures to protect palestinians. the arab—backed draft deplored any disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by israel — and the firing of rockets from gaza against israeli civilian areas, though it didn't name hamas. visa says its card payment service
is returning to normal following a system failure which left many customers across europe unable to pay for some of their purchases. the company has apologised for the hardware failure and said it had no reason to believe it was the result of a malicious attack. stay with us here on bbc news, still to come: the german state of bavaria imposes a new law requiring a christian cross in the entrance to every public building. canada hasjoined the european union in filing a challenge to us tariffs on steel and aluminium with the world trade organization. the eu's trade commissioner, cecilia malmstrom, said the us was playing a dangerous game. she said the tariffs would have consequences for the global economy. nick bryant has been to a steel town which has fallen on hard times to see how the measures have been received by president trump's supporters. bethlehem, pennsylvania used to be a powerhouse of the us steel industry.
then it became a rust belt powerbase of donald trump. after the closure of its main steel plant 20 years ago, many people here felt like economic castaways, stranded in a globalised economy that left them behind. in the presidential election, bethlehem voted republican for the first time since the 1980s. we actually had 30,000 people working here at one time... former steelworker tom sedor doesn't even like donald trump, but he loves the imposition of these tariffs. i think they're gonna really help the economy, help the general public. i think it's a good thing, and i don't think the sky is going to fall. you're not worried about the impact of a trade war? i'm not worried about the impact. it's been done before and it hasn't hurt. it's actually 30—a0 years too late. the trump administration claims it's protecting us national security, but this is more about protecting the us steel industry and protecting rust belt towns. donald trump believes he is rewarding his loyal supporters, and does not seem that worried about angering america's closest allies. tonight, the president singled out the european union for criticism.
if you take the european union, and you see the kind of tariff they charge, and then we don't, that's called not fair trade. i want fair trade. but the european union is not taking it without a fight. it's retaliating and calling donald trump's actions a dangerous game. this is further weakening the transatlantic relations and it increases the risk of severe turbulences in the market globally. protectionism can never be a solution, and this will hurtjobs here in the european union, but also in the us. harley—davidson motorbikes are on a tariff target list of american imports compiled by the eu that also includes iconic goods, such as levi jeans and whiskey. there's been a rapid response from america's neighbours, canada and mexico, imposing tariffs on $13 billion worth of us exports.
tonight in the uk, the prime minister stressed her deep disappointment, calling it an unjustified decision. words reiterated by her trade secretary. it is very, very unfortunate if we get into this tit—for—tat position, especially with one of our closest allies. nobody wins in a trade war, there are only casualties. port talbot steelworks in wales has battled for its survival in recent years. now comes more uncertainty for its workers. it is another kick in the teeth basically. after all we've gone through, we've worked hard to establish ourselves in the global market again, and now this has been presented, or thrown into our lap, through no fault of our own. britain exports some £360 million worth of steel to america each year, and industry chiefs warn that tariffs could have wider, devastating effects. newsreel: bethlehem, pennsylvania - where every christmas, a huge star glows from a hilltop.
where every other night in the year, the sky is lit by the hungry furnaces of little steel. it's way too late to save bethlehem's steel plant, the american industry's heyday is a thing of the past. but us unemployment dropped today to its lowest level in 18 years, fuelling the sense of rust belt revival and emboldening donald trump. phil levy is a senior fellow at the chicago council on global affairs and former trade adviser to us president george w bush. hejoins us from chicago now. thank you forjoining us, what are the options available to the nations who have had these tariffs imposed ona who have had these tariffs imposed on a steel and alimony? they can either accept it or they can retaliate, or file a either accept it or they can retaliate, orfile a complaint. it seems most of them have taken the
latter two courses of action, both filing complaints and retaliation. is in trouble with filing complaints that it takes too long, it can take yea rs snarled that it takes too long, it can take years snarled up in wto mechanisms trying to get a resolution, i suppose what they can do now is impose retaliatory tariffs?” suppose what they can do now is impose retaliatory tariffs? i think you're right, that is why they are doing retaliatory tariffs, they are not waiting, they are rejecting com pletely not waiting, they are rejecting completely the us argument that it isa completely the us argument that it is a national security measure, and i think rightly so, they are treating it as a safeguard measure, there is another problem with filing a complaint, which is it puts the wto in an untenable position, and may in fact think the institution if it is seen to be sitting in judgement on us national security, evenif judgement on us national security, even if it is a specious claim. one can look at this and think that president trump is doing this out of the blue, but he has talked about
this for ages, and of course he a lwa ys this for ages, and of course he always talks about the fact that the eu does impose tariffs on some us imports. so it is not out of the blue, it is almost as though president trump is reacting to what the europeans have done in the past. i don't know how much it is a reaction to what the europeans have done, i think you have it right where you mentioned that he talked about at the ages, at one point shortly after the introduction of the steel tariffs, the press secretary said "i don't know why you are surprised, he has been saying this decade. and she has a point. you had a lot of people in the us, particularly investors who tended to be very select is in what they heard from this president, whether would listen on things like tax cuts and be dismissive of claims of protectionism. and now we know that he really meant that. surely the trump administration knew that the eu and china and canada would retaliate and that by retaliating it would hurt some of president trump's
supporters, things like jeans and bourbon and the harley—davidson is, these are things that are made in these are things that are made in the areas that support president trump. it is very generous of you to be sure that they have thought that many steps ahead. i do know that we have seen evidence of that. 13 months ago when the president initially thought to withdraw from nafta, he was deterred when his own commerce and agricultural secretary rushed into the oval office and explained to him that many of the states that had supported him most a rdently states that had supported him most ardently were in fact major exporters. one may have thought he would know that in advance, but that seemed to sway him. this is a learning process for this president. let's bring you up to date with the main stories this hour. after a top north korean official delivers a letter from kim jong—un to the white house, president trump says the singapore summit will happen. italy's president has sworn in the country's new prime minister.
guiseppe conte was chosen by the anti—establishment parties which won the last election. let's get more on our top story. earlier, i spoke to drjohn park, who is director of the korea working group at the harvard kennedy school. i asked him what was in that letter from kimjong—un that made him change his mind about meeting. it was actually not the letter but the individual who conveyed the letter, that is kim yong—chol, he is a very senior, very close adviser to north korean leader kimjong—un and his meetings with then—director of the cia and now secretary of state mike pompeo has really created this bridge. and it was really the individual and a series of meetings that led to what was the outcome, president trump tweeting that the summit is happening in singapore, june 12 is the next stop. you are suggesting that personalities matter but how about the content and the details about
denuclearisation, whether the north koreans will get rid of all the nuclear weapons, whether the north koreans want the americans to get all of their nuclear weapons away from the korean peninsula, what about the detail? the detail part is clearly the element that has been deferred and if anything this is very much the focus of the processes as president trump mentioned, in the press conference right after his meeting, this is going to be a process and rather than just one summit meeting in singapore, he is basically laying the groundwork for a series of meetings. so the idea is to create this foundation for the two sides to commit to the overall denuclearisation process, but really leave details for later on, and at the end of the day this is a political process rather than a technical one. when you say leaving the details to later, does that mean that in some kind of scenario the us would be willing to take its nuclear weapons away from the korean peninsula? because i'm assuming
that the us would have to ask north korea that there is no condition they may have to get rid of their nuclear weapons. well, there is something called the phased approach, it is an approach that the south korean government, moonjae—in‘s government, has been putting forward. basically, the north korean and the united states sides, as they move forward they build confidence and they can get the more contentious issues but the idea that it is a process and in many respects i think the advice and suggestions from president moon jae—in about the process looks like that is what we are seeing in the early stages here. that is great. i'm thinking about the japanese, what are they thinking looking at what is going on? because the us also is a backstop forjapanese security in the region, not just south korea. there is a lot of concern, and i think the clearest sign that the concern is
a priority right now, prime minister abe was able to secure a meeting with president trump. abe will be the final leader to meet directly with president trump before the summit in singapore and clearly abe will convey the urgency of these types of security concerns for the us ally. really what we are looking at again is not the idea of trying to solve everything at the summit, as president trump has mentioned, but the idea of this process. clearly there is ambiguity frankly in the beginning part but i think that is recognition that there is a significant amount of gap in this comes to these definitions about denuclearisation and what does what, who, when and how. the german state of bavaria has introduced a controversial new law, which requires all public buildings to display a christian cross in theirfoyer. the man at the centre of the law, regional premier markus soeder, says the crucifix is at the heart of bavaria. but critics have slammed him for politicising a religious symbol to woo far—right, anti—islamists. tiffany wertheimer‘s report contains flash photography. this will be a common sight in bavaria from now on. as of friday morning,
nearly all government buildings in the south—eastern german state must display a crucifix. as the law came into effect, its mastermind, premier markus soeder, was not even in bavaria. he was at the vatican enjoying a private audience with the pope. soeder says the cross is at the heart of bavaria's identity, but the new law has left germans divided. translation: i think it is a good thing because it is a part of our tradition and i am a religious person. translation: i don't need to hang one on the wall. sometimes i even feel a bit uneasy about the cross. but i am of the opinion that everyone should be able to decide for themselves. markus soeder is the leader of bavaria's conservative christian social union. it's the sister party of angela merkel‘s christian democratic union. with state elections looming, critics say the crucifix law is designed to claw back votes from germany's afd party, whose supporters are generally right wing and anti—islamic.
translation: it's a move by the election campaign. the afd talks a lot about christian values and i think markus soeder had to do something before the regional election next october, in order to win at all costs. outrage at the law has come from far and wide, including the head of the german bishops conference, who said the move was never discussed with him and he doesn't support it. soeder has also been mocked. the state premier of neighbouring baden—wurttemberg compared this photo of him to a vampire film. in an effort to wind back the critical lashings, the bavarian government said while it is compulsory for buildings like police stations, courts and government offices, it is merely a recommendation for schools, museums and theatres. vogue arabia has defended its decision to feature a saudi
princess on its cover as a symbol of women in the kingdom finally winning the right to drive. the magazine has been criticised for ignoring the contribution of saudi women campaigners — some of whom were arrested recently. laura westbrook reports. vogue arabia's latest edition has not got quite the reaction it was hoping for. it is because of who was chosen to be on the cover. the saudi princess whose family is lauded for being the "driving force," while activists who fought for women's right to drive remain behind bars. that's wrong, say human rights activists, because not mentioned are campaigners who helped draw international attention by driving illegally and posting videos online. just weeks before women in saudi arabia are allowed to drive, some activists were labelled as traitors and arrested. given the significant loosening of certain restrictions on women's activities on saudi arabia in recent months, including the forthcoming ending of the ban on women driving,
it's perplexing why both women and men engaged in campaigning for such positive developments are now being targeted by the authorities. one activist, manal al—sharif, who has left the country, was interviewed by vogue. on twitter, she urged people not to forget three leading women's rights campaigners who are still in detention. but vogue stands by its choice. its editor describes the cover as: the man on the left, the crown prince mohammad bin salman, was behind the decision to lift the driving ban. he took on the country's powerful clerics to do so. cinemas and theatres were recently reopened after a ban which lasted three decades. and back in september, women were allowed into a sports stadium, previouslyjust for men, to watch a concert for the first time. the reforms are part
of the royal family's plans to modernise saudi arabia and improve its reputation. as the royal family is being celebrated for bringing about this change, pressure will grow on them to acknowledge those who campaigned and are now faced with draconian sentences. now the excitement for the football world cup in russia has built up so much it has reached into space. these russian cosmonauts are testing out the official world cup match ball onboard the international space station. adding a more acrobatic edge to the beautiful game, anton shkaplerov and oleg artemyev showcased some of the possibilities for zero gravity football. unfortunately, they won't be able to make it home for the opening match against saudi arabia.
england play nigeria on saturday, and of course nigeria will win. sorry, had to be biased. and you can get in touch with me and most of the team on twitter, i'm @nkem|fejika. time for the weather now with chris fawkes. hello there. friday was another day when we had plenty of thunderstorms around but this time they were mainly focused across the northern half of the uk. flashing away across the north of wales, northern england, northern ireland and scotland, where we had some localised surface water flooding issues as well. what catches my eye on the satellite picture at the moment is this area of cloud extending out from europe across east anglia. it is bringing outbreaks of rain. most of it's quite light but i think this will have a bearing on the weather forecast across eastern counties of england, as i'll explain in a moment. for the time being, a few splashes of rain for the next few hours across some of these eastern counties. not as murky a night as it has been, particularly across southern england, although around coastal areas there are still some patches
of mist and fog. perhaps a few patches of mist, too, around the pennines and north midlands, we have the most humid air. thunderstorms developing through today. i think they will be mostly in scotland. one or two for northern ireland, one or two for east anglia. so this is how the day starts. we will see this cloud and light rain working in across parts of norfolk, moving across lincolnshire and in across yorkshire. that might get to northumberland and durham as well later in the afternoon. what that area of cloud will do is stop temperatures rising so high. further north we can see some sunshine, with heavy thundery showers for scotland. a risk of localised flooding here, but it's not certain these showers will develop across eastern england. that cloud that i showed you might actually stop the showers from falling here. there could be a few thunderstorms, though, to the south in east anglia. southern counties of england and across southern wales, this is where the driest weather is going to be with the best of the day's sunshine. the heaviest of the downpours, i'm pretty sure, will be across scotland and maybe into east anglia. those showers will fade away through the night. on sunday, a lot of dry weather for the second half of the weekend. not completely dry.
a few showers around. northern england, parts of southern scotland, the favoured areas for catching those showers. quite a bit of cloud around the north sea coast of scotland. the best of the sunshine further south with a ridge of high pressure keeping the weather settled here. and it will be a bit warmer. temperatures could reach 25 degrees around london and the south—east. on into the early stages of next week. this area of high pressure to the north—west of the uk is going to start to draw in some north—easterly winds. there will be some cloud coming onto the north sea coast. it might well start out cloudy on monday before that cloud tends to thin out. it will burn back to a degree, to the coasts, with some brighter and sunny spells, but it will certainly be a bit cooler and fresher. temperatures in london around about 20 degrees on monday. that's your weather. this is bbc news. the headlines: after recieving a letter from kim jong—un, president trump says the summit
between the us and north korea will take on june the 12th in singapore. mr trump held talks with kim yong—chol, the highest level representative from pyongyang to visit the white house since 2000. europe, mexico and canada have rejected america's new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. canada said it would join the european union in filing a challenge at the world trade organization. washington claims the policy would safeguard national security. giuseppe conte has been sworn in as italy's prime minister, ending a period of political deadlock. the leaders of two anti—establishment parties who nominated him will serve as ministers. the president had previously rejected his pick for finance minister.