Paris, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — French President Emmanuel Macron's top diplomatic adviser is spending two days in Tehran as part of an urgent bid to deescalate rising tensions with Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
An Elysee Palace official said that adviser Emmanuel Bonne left for Tehran on Tuesday, seeking ways to restart dialogue. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter and asked for anonymity.
Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed in a weekend conversation to set a July 15 deadline to solve the current impasse, and ultimately save the 2015 nuclear accord that the U.S. pulled out of last year.
Macron spoke with President Donald Trump on Monday — the day Iran began enriching uranium beyond the accord's 3.67% limit, and after breaking the limit on stockpiles.
Tokyo, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — Nintendo Co. plans to start making its Switch video game console in Vietnam this year, transferring some of its production from China, a company spokesman said Tuesday.
The official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said the change has been in the works for some time, to reduce risks that come from having production in one nation. He denied it was a direct response to the growing trade friction between the U.S. and China.
He declined to give details on manufacturers or production sites in Vietnam, citing company policy. He said production was set to start this summer but declined to give a date.
Japan's major business daily Nikkei reported Tuesday that the move was driven by worries that U.S. tariffs on goods produced in China may affect game device sales.
About 40% of annual Switch sales are in the U.S., and 20% in Japan. All production so far has been in China.
Switch sales for the last fiscal year totaled 17 million machines, falling short of the company goal of 20 million, according to the Kyoto-based maker of Super Mario and Pokemon games.
This fiscal year, which runs through March 2020, Nintendo hopes to ship 18 million Switch machines. The Switch is a hybrid game machine that works both as a console and a tablet. It went on sale about two years ago.
Tokyo, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — Japan said Tuesday it does not plan to retract or renegotiate its stricter controls on high-tech exports to South Korea, a day after the South Korean president urged that the issue be resolved through diplomacy.
Tokyo tightened the approval process for Japanese shipments of photoresists and other sensitive materials to South Korean companies last week.
Japanese officials say such materials can be exported only to trustworthy trading partners, hinting at security risks without citing specific cases. They have rejected suggestions that the move was driven by a deterioration in ties between the two countries related to historical issues.
"The measure is not a subject for consultation and we have no intention of withdrawing it either," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.
He was responding to South Korean President Moon Jae-in's appeal for a diplomatic solution thorough "sincere" bilateral discussions, urging Tokyo to withdraw what he described as a politically motivated measure.
Moon said Monday his country would be forced to take countermeasures if the restrictions on materials used mainly in semiconductors and displays cause damage to South Korean companies. The trade curbs have raised concern over possible disruptions for South Korean manufacturers and global supply chains, he said.
South Korea's Trade Ministry says Seoul plans to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization.
Japan's trade measures followed recent South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese companies to compensate South Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during World War II.
The export restrictions cover fluorinated polyimides, which are used in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens for TVs and smartphones, and photoresist and hydrogen fluoride, used for making semiconductors.
Japanese officials say those chemicals are sensitive materials that could be used in fighter jets, radars and chemical weapons. They say the decision to tighten export controls was based on a lack of trust that posed a risk to national security.
They haven't elaborated on the alleged security risks, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ultra-conservative aides have hinted there may have been illegal transfers of sensitive materials from South Korea to North Korea.
"South Korea says it is adequately abiding by the sanctions and that it is properly carrying out export controls. But South Korea, with its handling of the former Korean wartime laborers issues, clearly demonstrated that it is a country that does not keep promises. Naturally, we have to assume it also fails to keep promises on export controls," Abe said Sunday on a Fuji Television talk show.
On another Fuji talk show last week, Koichi Hagiuda, a senior lawmaker in Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, said some chemical exports were unaccounted for. A day later, former defense minister Itsunori Onodera mentioned a South Korean newspaper report in May about illegal shipments of sensitive materials that could have ended up in North Korea and Iran via third countries. It did not cite any sources.
South Korea denied the allegations, summoning a Japanese embassy official to protest Abe's suggestion that it could not be trusted to faithfully implement sanctions against North Korea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim In-chul said Tuesday.
South Korean officials say there is no evidence to back up such claims and that Seoul has been properly implementing international sanctions against the North over its nuclear weapons program.
Sung Yun-mo, South Korea's Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, said Tuesday that an "emergency inspection" of companies that process and export the chemicals imported from Japan found no sign of illegal transactions allowing them to reach North Korea or any other country affected by United Nations sanctions. He said only Japan had questioned the credibility of South Korean export controls.
"Japan should immediately stop its groundless claims," Sung said. He demanded that Japan disclose and share relevant information in line with U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Japan's trade and industry minister Hiroshige Seko said Tuesday that Tokyo would arrange a meeting, at the request of South Korean export control authorities, to explain the export controls. South Korea has not yet asked Japan to resolve the dispute through the WTO, he said.
"It totally depends on South Korea's response," Seko said.
Tokyo, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — Asian shares retreated Tuesday in quiet trading as investors awaited signs of what might be ahead for U.S. interest rates.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was flat at 21,526.22, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.3% to 6,653.60. South Korea's Kospi was marginally lower, down 0.1% at 2,063.14. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4% to 28,221.67, while the Shanghai Composite lost 0.2% to 2,927.34.
Shares fell on Wall Street overnight amid growing speculation an unexpectedly strong pickup in U.S. employment growth last month lead the Federal Reserve to hold back on aggressively cutting its benchmark interest rate. Many investors still expect a cut of a quarter percentage point, but fewer are now expecting a half-point reduction.
The market rallied through much of June after the Federal Reserve signaled that it's prepared to cut interest rates to offset slowing global growth and the fallout from U.S. trade conflicts.
The S&P 500 fell 0.5% to 2,975.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.4% to 26,806.14. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.8% to 8,098.38. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks dropped 0.9% to 1,561.39.
Investors will be listening closely for any hints on the central bank's interest rate policy on Wednesday and Thursday, when Powell delivers the Fed's semi-annual monetary report to Congress.
"After getting accustomed to trading the bad news is good news regime, investors are still struggling with the good news is the bad direction," Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets in Singapore said in a commentary.
"They shouldn't be as on the macro level; there is still no sign of a turnaround for eurozone activity data or China for that matter," Innes said. "Suggesting downside global growth momentum remains the path of least resistance and if this doesn't trigger a deluge of central bank easing, not sure what will."
ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil dipped 15 cents to $57.51 a barrel. It rose 15 cents to $57.66 a barrel Monday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, fell 16 cents to $63.95 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.86 Japanese yen from 108.40 yen Monday. The euro weakened to $1.1213 from $1.1230.
Washington, Jul 9 (AP/UNB) — The State Department is proposing the sale of $2.2 billion in arms to Taiwan, including 108 Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, sidestepping protests from China.
The tanks represent a significant upgrade to Taiwan's aging armored battle fleet. Congress has been notified of the proposed sale and lawmakers can vote to stop it.
The Chinese foreign ministry has said it firmly opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims as its territory.
The State Department says the arms will help Taiwan "meet current and future regional threats" and enhance its ability to operate with the U.S. and other partners.
Taiwan split from China in 1949, and has no formal diplomatic ties with the U.S. America is Taiwan's main supplier of defensive weapons.