01:18 GMT10 August 2020
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    Donald Trump on Friday agreed to re-open the government after the longest shutdown of US federal agencies in history, which had affected nearly 800,000 government employees. The POTUS stood by his demand to build a border wall with Mexico, threatening to repeat the shutdown - or go to greater lengths - if he doesn't receive the funding.

    US President Donald Trump has announced the start of talks with the Democratic Party over border wall funding after the temporary end to the month-long partial government shutdown.

    "Will not be easy to make a deal, both parties very dug in," he said on Saturday. "The case for national security has been greatly enhanced by what has been happening at the border and through dialogue. We will build the wall!"

    Trump has been under increasing political pressure ever since he ordered the closure of a quarter of US government agencies on 22 December, after Democratic lawmakers, who have a majority in the lower chamber of Congress, flatly rejected to meet his request for $5.7 billion in funding for a physical barrier on the US southern border.

    The shutdown lead to over 400,000 federal employees being left without pay and another 350,000 furloughed — something that prompted Donald Trump to sign a bill ensuring that they would get paid for lost wages.

    He re-opened the government on Friday, which some observers deemed a concession to the Democrats. The president insisted, however, that this was a temporary measure, and vowed to repeat the shutdown in 21 days if the two parties are unable to strike a deal. He also hinted at a "powerful alternative" that he "did not want to use this time" — an apparent reference to the declaration of national emergency that would enable him to order US troops to build the long-promised border wall.

    Trump has repeatedly called for the construction of a physical barrier — a wall or a see-through fence — in sensitive sections of the US-Mexico border, saying that it would help the country tackle problems stemming from undocumented immigration, such as drug smuggling and human trafficking.

    Roger Stone Indictment

    His political opponents from the left argue that his demands for a wall — as well as the government shutdown — were effectively an attempt to mobilise support from conservative voters. Critics also point out that Trump's decision to end the shutdown came, not coincidentally, shortly after his former long-time adviser, Roger Stone, had been arrested as part of the Russia probe on charges of obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and lying to Congress.

    Stone dismissed the accusations as "politically motivated" and said he would not testify against the president, who also leapt to his defence.


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