While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Feb 16 edition

US President Donald Trump (second right) and First Lady Melania Trump meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara (left) in the Oval Office.
US President Donald Trump (second right) and First Lady Melania Trump meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara (left) in the Oval Office.PHOTO: REUTERS

Meeting Israel’s Netanyahu, Trump backs away from commitment to Palestinian state

President Donald Trump dropped a US commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a longstanding bedrock of Middle East policy, even as he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to curb settlement construction.

In the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Trump’s victory in the 2016 election, the Republican president backed away from a US embrace of the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, upending a position taken by successive administrations and the international community.

“I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one both parties like,” Trump told a joint news conference with Netanyahu. “I can live with either one.”

Dropping a bombshell on Netanyahu as they faced reporters just before sitting down for talks, Trump told him: “I’d like to see you pull back on settlements for a little bit.”


Thai junta imposes control on influential temple

Thailand's junta leader announced he was imposing control on the country's biggest Buddhist temple on Thursday after it failed to hand over an influential monk who has resisted questioning over money laundering.

With political parties and many activists silenced since a coup in 2014, the Dhammakaya Temple is a rare institution in defying the junta, which has so far trod warily in confronting a religious group that claims millions of followers.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that Article 44 of the constitution - a security measure dubbed "the dictator's law" by critics - was being used to impose control on the monastery because it had resisted law enforcement efforts.


North Koreans tried to stop autopsy on body of leader's half-brother

North Korean officials spent hours trying to talk Malaysia out of conducting an autopsy on Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother, who was murdered at Kuala Lumpur airport this week, three sources familiar with the stand-off told Reuters.

Malaysian authorities refused the request, said the sources, all Malaysian government officials. The events have not previously been reported by international media.

The body of Kim Jong Nam was taken in the morning to a hospital for investigations into his mysterious death. North Korean embassy officials followed, and were there so long that they ordered a meal from KFC, reporters at the hospital said.


Slovenian fatally beaten live on Facebook

Two Slovenian men have been remanded in custody after a man who was beaten up live on Facebook died from his injuries, authorities said.

The footage showed one of the suspects kicking and punching Andrej Cekuta, 26, even as he lay unconscious on the ground on Monday night, while the other filmed and live-streamed it.

In a separate incident in the US, a toddler and a man were fatally shot while riding in a car in Chicago, in a Valentine's Day attack captured in a live video on Facebook.


Football: Free agent Ricardo Carvalho joins Shanghai SIPG - report

Former Real Madrid and Chelsea centre back Ricardo Carvalho has joined Shanghai SIPG as a free agent, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

The 38-year-old Portuguese defender has been without a club since August 2016, when he was released by French Ligue 1 side Monaco.

Chinese clubs have made a number of high-profile signings recently, and Carvalho becomes Shanghai's fifth foreign player, joining Brazilians Oscar, Hulk and Elkeson, and Uzbekistan captain Odil Ahmedov.