Top stories from The Straits Times on Tuesday, Feb 26

Good morning! Here are our top stories to kick-start your Tuesday, Feb 26.

Trump says US, China 'very, very close' on trade deal, expects 'signing summit' with Xi

Speaking at the White House after signalling that he planned to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to conclude any deal, Trump told a group of US governors that while a US-China trade pact could happen soon, a deal also may not be reached. PHOTO: AFP

Cheering global stock markets, the new comments confirm the dispute will not ratchet up immediately, averting an even bigger impact on the global economy.  


Help for workers a key focus for Budget debate beginning today

Key measures announced in the Budget last week include the Merdeka Generation Package, the $1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus for Singaporeans and a reduction in the foreign worker quota for the service sector. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Getting the Singaporean workforce to be more "future-proof" amid technological and economic disruptions will be a key focus for MPs when the debate on this year's Budget begins today.


Anwar presses for handover amid growing grumbles against Mahathir's government

A recent claim by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (left) that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (right) had agreed to hand over power to him within two years is in contrast to statements by Pakatan Harapan leaders that no deadline had been set. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Mr Anwar and his party have repeatedly claimed that Dr Mahathir agreed to hand over power within two years. However, the latter recently said he needs "two-and-a-half to three years to fix the prevailing problems".


Trump won’t rush North Korea on denuclearisation; peace deal possible

Workers make a North Korean and a US flag out of paper-flowers beside a street in Hanoi on Feb 25, 2019, ahead of the second US-North Korea summit. PHOTO: AFP

US Democratic senators and security officials have warned Mr Trump against cutting a deal that would do little to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.   


Why is Kim Jong Un taking a 60-hour train trip to meet Donald Trump in Vietnam?

Security personnel stand near the Dong Dang Railway Station, where North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is expected to arrive by train, in Dong Dang, Vietnam, on Feb 25, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Experts believe one of the reasons Mr Kim is taking a train to Hanoi is because it is how his grandfather, North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung, travelled for his visits to Vietnam in 1958 and 1964.


Rival firms refute Huawei founder's claim of tech superiority

A member of Huawei staff shows the new Huawei Mate X device during a pre-briefing display ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb 23, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

Rival telecoms equipment makers have refuted Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei's claim that his firm's technology is more advanced, with industry watchers attributing Huawei's gains on rivals in recent years to aggressive pricing strategies. 


Burning smell in eastern part of Singapore likely caused by fire in southern Johor: NEA

Netizens have been complaining about the burning smell on social media, with threads on discussion forum Reddit highlighting the smell in both the eastern and western parts of the island. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The agency has not been able to ascertain the exact source of the fire due to the cloudy weather.


Indonesia creates artificial rain as forest fires rage on in Sumatra

Haze has blanketed parts of Riau, forcing schools to send students home as pollution reached hazardous levels on Monday, Antara news agency reported. PHOTO: AFP

Haze has blanketed parts of Riau, forcing schools to send students home as pollution reached hazardous levels on Monday.


Football: Former J-League trainer Tatsuma Yoshida leads race to be next Singapore national football coach

Born in Chiba prefecture, Tatsuma Yoshida was a central midfielder and started his playing career with hometown club Kashiwa Reysol before turning out for Kyoto Sanga and Montedio Yamagata. PHOTO: J.LEAGUE

The long-awaited search for a permanent national football coach is likely to end in March and The Straits Times understands that the current front runner for the hot seat is former J-League coach Tatsuma Yoshida.


Singer R. Kelly pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges

Singer Robert Kelly, known as R. Kelly, appears in a booking photo provided by the Chicago Police Department in Chicago, Illinois, US, on Feb 23, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

Grammy-winning R&B star R. Kelly appeared in a Chicago courtroom on Monday (Feb 25) to plead not guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted three teenage girls and a woman in alleged incidents dating back to 1998.