Uzbek Prez Shavkat Mirziyoyev receives Gujarat CM Rupani
By Deepak Arora
TASHKENT, Oct 22: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has been having a hectic schedule duing his visit to Uzbekistan. On Tuesday, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev received a delegation of the state of Gujarat, headed by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
The two leaders discussed promising areas for cooperation.
Warmly welcoming the Indian delegation, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted the dynamic development of multifaceted cooperation, strengthening friendship and strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and India.
It was noted that regular contacts at the highest level, including President Mirziyoyev's visits to New Delhi in October 2018 and to Gandhinagar (the administrative center of Gujarat) in January this year allowed the two sides to raise bilateral multifaceted relations to a qualitatively new stage.
In turn, Vijay Rupani expressed deep gratitude to the President of Uzbekistan for the warm reception and conveyed sincere greetings and the best wishes of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi.
The Indian delegation noted that the meetings and negotiations within the framework of the present visit of the Gujarat state delegation, held in Andijan, Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent, are primarily aimed at facilitating full-scale implementation of the agreements reached at the highest level.
The prospects of further enhancement of trade, economic, investment and cultural-humanitarian cooperation between Uzbekistan and India were considered.
Particular attention was paid to the implementation of joint projects in such areas as biotechnology and agricultural clusters, the textile and pharmaceutical industries, the production of auto components and cosmetics and the construction and management of hospitality infrastructure.
One of the priorities is cooperation in the field of education and training in popular engineering and technical majors in joint higher education institutions opened this year in Uzbekistan and on the basis of leading Indian universities.
The parties agreed to the soonest development of a joint roadmap to promote the effective partnership of Uzbekistan with leading companies and organizations of Gujarat.
Following the meeting, Vijay Rupani confirmed readiness to contribute in every possible way to the expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries and strengthening friendship of people of the two countries.
On the sidelines of his Tashkent visit, the Chief Minister interacted with students of the Amity University.
He also visited Lal Bahadur Shastri School No. 24 at Tashkent. He paid floral tributes to Lal Bahadur Shastri, former Prime Minister of India.
Rupani was mesmerised with a bhajan presentation by Kakharamon Gulomjonov at Tashkent. The Indian way of living expressed through “Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye" - a bhajan adopted by Bapu for his prayer - is universally accepted, he said in tweet.
During third day of his visit on Monday, the Chief Minister reached Bukhara. Vijay Rupani talked to the Uzbek business representatives at India-Uzbekistan business forum at Bukhara and invited them to explore new trade prospects and cooperation in areas of mutual interest to enhance the bilateral economic engagements.
There was a discussion between Gujarat business delegation and the Chamber of commerce Uzbekistan. The delegations had fruitful discussion on various sectors like Agro, Food processing and cold storage, Hospitality and tourism, Information technology and Health care.
On October 20, he had a fruitful meeting with Erkinjon Turdimov, Governor of Samarkand. They discussed about expanding bilateral cooperation in various sectors like organic farming, textile and Agro processing.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister extended an invitation to the Governor to visit Gujarat. He also presented the Governor with a replica of the historical Kirti Toran of Vadnagar as a memento.
The Chief Minister had reached Samarkand by bullet train on October 19.
Rupani, who had arrived in Andijan, Uzbekistan, on Oct 18, was warmly received by India's Ambassador Santosh Jha and other Uzbek officials.
The next day (October 19), he unveiled Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s statue at Andijan. The iron man of India symbolises unified India having Social and National Integration.
The Chief Minister said it was a moment of national pride for Gujarat as the Uzbekistan Government dedicated a street and erected a statue in honour of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Patel.
on sideline of his Andijan visit, the Chief Minister inaugurated the Sharda University campus. He said: "Sharda University will become the epicenter of future-focused education in various disciplines and will add immensely to the skill development of Uzbekistan as the university will train its personnel in various sectors."
With the inauguration, Sharda University thus became the first independent private university in Uzbekistan, to enter the corridors of central Asia.
The Chief Minister also addressed “Open Andijan 2019 International investment forum" at Andijan.
He also had an excellent meeting with Elyor Ganiev, Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan. "We talked on wide range of subjects including pharmaceuticals, tourism and many others of mutual importance," he said.
TORONTO, Oct 22: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will remain in power but with a minority government that will require the support of a smaller left-leaning party after a hard-fought election in which he was dogged by scandals.
The Liberals had won or were leading in 156 out of 338 seats in Monday's vote, according to Elections Canada. That put the Liberals far short of the 170 seats needed for a second straight majority government.
“You did it, my friends. Congratulations,” Trudeau told supporters in Montreal early on Tuesday.
Trudeau, who took power in 2015 as a charismatic figure promising “sunny ways,” saw his popularity drop over old photos of him in blackface and his handling of a corporate corruption case. He will now have to rely on the New Democratic Party (NDP) to push through key legislation.
Although the NDP had a disappointing night, as the number of seats it was projected to win was down sharply from the 2015 election, the party could exercise significant influence over Trudeau's next government.
Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than 2-1/2 years.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he had spoken with Trudeau and vowed to “work hard to deliver on the country's priorities.”
Ahead of the vote, polls showed a tight race between Trudeau and his main rival, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. The Conservatives, who trailed on Monday with 121 seats, actually won the national popular vote, according to preliminary results.
Trudeau (47), who has championed diversity as prime minister, was endorsed by former U.S. President Barack Obama in the final stretch of the campaign and is viewed as one of the last remaining progressive leaders among the world's major democracies.
But the son of the late Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau also had to overcome a sense of fatigue with his government.
U.S. President Donald Trump, whose relationship with Trudeau has been testy at times, congratulated him “on a wonderful and hard fought victory” via Twitter.
The Bloc Quebecois saw its support jump in the mainly French-speaking province of Quebec, the only place where the separatist party contests elections. It was elected or ahead in 32 seats, more than three times what the party won in 2015.
The Greens, who have assailed Trudeau for not doing enough to combat climate change, also made gains on Monday.
“The bigger problem is it seems that Canadians have never been more divided and the next government really needs to work to correct that. Alberta is at risk of a broader separatist movement and that would be a major negative for Canada.”
Two Liberal Cabinet ministers lost their seats in western Canada, including veteran Ralph Goodale, the public safety minister. Anger at Trudeau has mounted in the oil-producing region over federal environmental policies that the energy industry says will harm output.
The oil industrys top lobbying group has blamed Trudeaus policies for throttling investment in the sector, and some global energy companies have shed assets in the oil sands region of Alberta, the country's main oil-producing province.
Canada's economy, however, has been on a general upswing in 2019. The Canadian dollar has been the best-performing G10 currency this year, rising more than 4% against its U.S. counterpart, as the economy added jobs at a robust pace and inflation stayed closed to the Bank of Canada's 2% target.
The six-week official campaign period was a rough and meandering ride with dirty tactics on both sides in the G7 country.
The liberal image of Trudeau, whose father opened the country to mass immigration, took a severe blow when pictures emerged early in the campaign of him wearing blackface in the early 1990s and in 2001.
Trudeau had already been wrestling with the fallout from accusations he pressured his justice minister to help shield engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc from corruption charges. In August, a top watchdog said Trudeau breached ethics rules.
Scheer also proved to be a determined opponent, although his hopes for a major breakthrough were dashed.
Scheer (40), promised to balance the federal budget and eliminate a “carbon tax” on fossil fuels. He was running his first campaign as party leader after winning a bitter leadership fight in 2017.
“The Tories made a fundamental mistake by being opposed to the carbon tax,” said Hugh Segal, who was chief of staff to former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
“I've often heard it said the worst mistake a party can make is to get sucked into its own low expectations of the population,” he said.
Turkey to resume northern Syria operation if US does not keep promises: Erdogan
ANKARA, Oct 22:
Turkey will press on with its military operation in northeast Syria "with determination" after a US-brokered ceasefire expires later on Tuesday if promises given by Washington have not been kept, President Tayyip Erdogan said.
Turkey says all Kurdish YPG militia forces must leave a "safe zone" it wants to establish along a section of its border with Syria. Ankara views the YPG as terrorists with links to Kurdish insurgents operating in southeast Turkey.
Speaking ahead of an official visit to Russia, Erdogan also said he would discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin how a Syrian constitutional committee that is due to meet in late October can make concrete progress.
Canada votes in close race election
TORONTO, Oct 21: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced the threat of being knocked from power after one term as the nation held parliamentary elections on Monday.
The 47-year-old Trudeau channeled the star power of his father, the liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, when he won in 2015 but a combination of scandal and high expectations have damaged his prospects.
Polls indicate Trudeau’s Liberal Party could lose to the rival Conservatives, or perhaps win but still fail to get a majority of seats in Parliament and have to rely on an opposition party to remain in power.
“It’s a coin toss,” said Nik Nanos, a Canadian pollster.
Not in 84 years has a first-term Canadian prime minister with a parliamentary majority lost a bid for re-election.
Trudeau brought his wife and three kids along as he voted in his district in Montreal.
Trudeau reasserted liberalism in 2015 after almost 10 years of Conservative Party government in Canada, but he is one of the few remaining progressive leaders in the world. He has been viewed as a beacon for liberals in the Trump era, even appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine under the headline “Why Can’t He Be Our President?”
Perhaps sensing Trudeau is in trouble, Barack Obama made an unprecedented endorsement by a former American president in urging Canadians to re-elect Trudeau and saying the world needs his progressive leadership now.
But old photos of Trudeau in blackface and brownface surfaced last month, casting doubt on his judgment.
Trudeau also was hurt by a scandal that erupted this year when his former attorney general said he pressured her to halt the prosecution of a Quebec company. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs, but the damage gave a boost to the Conservative Party led by Andrew Scheer.
No party is expected to get a majority of Parliament’s 338 seats, so a shaky alliance may be needed to pass legislation.
If Conservatives should win the most seats — but not a majority — they would probably try to form a government with the backing of Quebec’s separatist Bloc Quebecois party. Trudeau’s Liberals would likely rely on the New Democrats to stay in power.
“One of the outcomes of this election might be the rise of regional division,” Nanos said.
Nanos said the Conservatives might primarily be a western regional party, the Liberals, an Ontario regional party, the Bloc, a Quebec regional party, and the New Democrats a British Columbia regional party.
Nanos said if a minority government emerges, the big question is who will be kingmaker, the Bloc or the New Democrats. He said Trudeau is most likely to win the largest number of seats because the Liberal vote is more efficient than the Conservatives.
Scheer is a career politician described by those in his own party as bland, a possible antidote for those tired of Trudeau’s flash. Scheer, 40, calls Trudeau a phony who can’t even recall how many times he has worn blackface.
Scheer is promising to end a national carbon tax and cut government spending, including foreign aid, by 25%. “That money belongs to you, not to them,” Scheer said.
Trudeau embraced immigration at a time when the U.S. and other countries are closing their doors, and he legalized cannabis nationwide.
His efforts to strike a balance on the environment and the economy have been criticized by both the right and left. He brought in a carbon tax to fight climate change but rescued a stalled pipeline expansion project to get Alberta’s oil to international markets.
His also negotiated a new free trade deal for Canada with the US and Mexico amid threats by President Donald Trump to scrap it.
Pat Gill, a Vancouver retiree, said she voted for Trudeau.
“I think people know he’s made some mistakes,” said Gill, who is 74. “I’m hoping he’s learned in the last four years. I still think he’s our best bet.”
Resurgent Hong Kong protesters stage huge rally
HONG KONG, Oct 21: Police and pro-democracy protesters battled on the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday as thousands of people rallied in several districts in defiance of attempts by the authorities to crack down on demonstrators.
After two weeks of relative calm in the five-month-long crisis, the rally drew broad-based support from regular citizens including young families and the elderly.
But a more radical faction of largely young protesters later clashed with riot police.
Banks and other businssses linked to China were attacked and bonfires lit on Nathan Road, a main road running through the heart of the Kowloon peninsula. Police fired volleys of tear gas and baton charged demonstrators, and also hosed them down from water cannon.
The Civil Human Rights Front, which had failed to obtain police approval to hold the march, said about 350,000 people took part. The police gave no estimate, saying they deemed the march to be illegal.
“You can see Hong Kongers won’t easily give up their right to demonstrate. Today’s turnout is more than I expected,” said Daniel Yeung, an unemployed protester who like many others wore a mask in defiance of a ban on wearing them.
“You can see that as long as people keep coming out in large numbers we are safe and can keep fighting,” he said.
Hong Kong, an international financial centre, has been battered by months of huge and often violent protests over fears that Beijing is tightening its grip on the territory, the worst political crisis since colonial ruler Britain handed it back to China in 1997.
On Sunday, massive crowds occupied thoroughfares in several districts in Kowloon and moved northwards, smashing a number of businesses linked to China including banks, a bookshop and other stores.
Protesters threw petrol bombs at the Tsim Sha Tsui police station after police inside fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators. One activist urinated onto the police gate.
Bonfires were also set as riot police with shields and batons charged at the crowds, fired multiple volleys of tear gas.
Police used water cannon trucks to disperse protesters, spraying jets of blue dye into the crowds and sending hundreds fleeing. Police have used the dye to identify protesters.
In one incident, a water cannon fired a jet towards the front gate of the Kowloon Mosque where a group of people stood. The mosque is Hong Kong’s most important Islamic place of worship.
Some worshipers interviewed by media outside the mosque afterwards called it a provocation against Islam and demanded the police apologise. Several police officers were filmed entering the building later, though the police gave no immediate response to the incident.
As riot police advanced protesters retreated readily, with some saying they wanted to avoid large numbers of arrests unlike past rallies when they stood their ground.
Along the march, protesters torched and trashed metro stations and hundreds of shops according to the police, throwing goods onto the streets. Chinese banks including ICBC and the Bank of China were torched and had glass windows smashed up. Smartphone maker Xiaomi also had one shop vandalised.
One trashed shop on Sunday had protest slogans left on its shutters saying it was attacked because it was owned by mainland Chinese mobs who had attacked innocent people.
“We never rob. We don’t forgive. We don’t forget”, said one notice.
Police said they had seized more than 40 petrol bombs. An explosive device was also detonated by police that had been rigged among broken bricks in the middle of a street.
The unrest was sparked four months ago by a bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts. It has since widened into a pro-democracy movement.
The protests pose the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took power. Beijing has denied eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms and Xi has vowed to crush any attempt to split China.
At the start of the march, banners reading “Free Hong Kong” stretched across the ground. Other posters read “HongKongers Resist”, while graffiti on one wall said “Better Dead than Red”.
“The government pretends we just want to destroy the city. We’ll be out for as long as it takes to let the world know it is them who are destroying it,” said a 24-year-old who gave his name as Ray.
Hong Kong is governed under a “one country, two systems” formula, which allows freedoms not granted on the mainland such as a free press and independent judiciary.
Protesters are angry at Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam for what they see as her failure to protect those freedoms from an encroaching Beijing, imposing colonial-era emergency powers, and allowing what they say is excessive force by police.
Lam’s annual policy speech last Wednesday did not address any of the protesters’ demands, which include universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality against protesters.
Two people have been shot and wounded by police and thousands injured since the protests escalated in June. More than 2,300 people have been arrested.
Gujarat CM Rupani visit to boost ties with Uzbekistan
NEW DELHI, Oct 19: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, accompanied by a high level delegation, is visiting Uzbekistan to attend the country’s first investment summit modelled on the Vibrant Gujarat summit.
Rupani will attend the India-Uzbekistan regional investment forum being held in Andijan as the resource-rich Central Asian nation wants to expand partnership with India.
Andijan and Gujarat are developing mutual cooperation within a partnership memorandum that was inked during the Vibrant Gujarat Investment Summit in January 2019 in which Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev was a key guest.
Following the summit, Uzbekistan sought Gujarat’s help for conducting a similar event. Subsequently, a delegation from Gujarat visited Uzbekistan to share its knowledge of holding such an event.
During the visit, Rupani will take part in the naming ceremony of a street there after Sardar Patel and unveil a statue of the late leader.
“During CM’s visit, several MoUs between companies of Gujarat will be inked with the Uzbekistan government exploring business and investment opportunities for Gujarat-based companies,” a Gujarat government official said.
Gujarat companies are exploring investment opportunities in sectors like pharmaceutical, textile, education, information technology and tourism.
“Since Gujarat is a hub of pharmaceuticals as top firms are based here, we had invited countries like Uzbekistan in our Vibrant Gujarat Summit where our companies can explore opportunities for enhancing their trade and businesses,” Gujarat Chief Secretary Dr. J.N. Singh said.
To attract investments in the pharmaceuticals sector, an Uzbek Indian Free Pharmaceutical Zone is being developed in the Andijan region. This project was among 17 agreements that were inked during the Uzbek President’s State visit to India in 2018.
TECC calls India, major countries to support Taiwan into INTERPOL
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, Oct 15: Taipei Economic and Cultural Center in India (TECC) calls on the Indian government and other major countries to support Taiwan’s participation in the meetings, mechanisms and training courses organized by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).
With 194 members, the INTERPOL is the second largest inter-governmental organization only after the United Nations in the world. Its 88th General Assembly is currently being held in Santiago, Chile from October 15 to 18.
The TECC says Taiwan occupies a key geographical place connecting Northeast and Southeast Asia and is a busy transportation hub in the Asia Pacific region. However, due to political factors, Taiwan is not admitted into relevant activities organized by the INTERPOL, and does not have access to critical intelligence instantly shared via its I-24/7 global police communications system.
Citing the World Drug Report 2018 published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the TECC says the world’s major production and consumption of amphetamine are found to be in East Asia, Southeast Asia and North America. There is also evidence showing acetic anhydride exported from Taiwan has made its way to Afghanistan, where it is used for the production of heroin.
The TECC quoting Huang Ming-chao, Commissioner of Criminal Investigation Bureau under the Ministry of the Interior, Republic of China (Taiwan) says criminal activities such as drug trafficking often spread across multiple countries and regions, creating considerable obstacles for the investigative authorities.
It notes that with criminal methods being constantly evolving, it is very difficult for any single sovereign nation to fully clamp down within their territory on all aspects of various criminal networks such as production, transportation, sales and money flow. Therefore, it is of extreme importance for all countries including Taiwan and India to work together and learn from others’ experience to crack down in transnational crimes.
The TECC further says while the modern age sees telecom and online fraud continue growing above national borders and become a highly organized form of crime, international cooperation must be enhanced to identify sources of these criminal activities, block money laundering channels and seize illicit gains in time, with the ultimate goal of exterminating drugs and fraud syndicates.
Calling for support from the Indian government and concerned entities, the TECC says global security and social justice must take precedence over political differences. “The Article 2 of the INTERPOL Constitution says its aims include ‘to ensure and promote the widest possible mutual assistance between all criminal police authorities within the limits of the laws existing in the different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,’ it is justified that Taiwan should be part of the INTERPOL,” the TECC said.
Attempt to split HK from China will end in shattered bones: Xi
BEIJING, Oct 14: Chinese President Xi Jinping has issued a stern warning against dissent as protests continue in Hong Kong, saying any attempt to divide China will end in “crushed bodies and shattered bones”.
His comments came during a state visit to Nepal on Sunday, the BBC reported citing China’s state broadcaster CCTV.
Several peaceful Hong Kong rallies descended into clashes between riot police and protesters on Sunday.
Public transport stations and shops deemed to be pro-Beijing were damaged.
Several neighbourhoods saw rallies, and by Sunday afternoon at least 27 stations on the MTR - Hong Kong’s metro - were closed.
Police said they had used “minimum force” to disperse protesters, but television footage showed weekend shoppers caught in the chaos.
Some were filmed screaming and apparently injured as officers rushed into a shopping centre.
Riot police with shields were forced out of one mall by chanting shoppers who took the side of the protesters.
Petrol bombs were thrown at Mong Kok police station, and one officer was slashed in the neck, authorities say. He is in a stable condition in hospital, the South China Morning Post reports.
A second man was allegedly beaten by protesters who found a baton in his bag and believed he was an undercover police officer.
Embedding police among the protesters has paid tactical dividends for the Hong Kong force, and spread paranoia among the mostly young activists.
Overnight on Sunday, one group of protesters hauled a three-metre-high statue of a protester on to Lion Rock, a famous outcrop overlooking Hong Kong.
The statue, Lady Liberty, has become a symbol of the rallies, and sports a gas mask, goggles and a helmet.
She represents an injured protester who demonstrators believe was shot in the eye by a police projectile.
The group of several dozen, some wearing head lamps, climbed the 500 metre peak during a thunderstorm. The statue held a black banner that read: “Revolution of our time, Liberate Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong’s protests started in June against proposals to allow extradition to mainland China, a move many feared would undermine the city’s judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
The bill has long been withdrawn, but protests have widened to include demands for full democracy and an inquiry into claims of police brutality.
Earlier this month, the city’s government used a colonial-era emergency law to ban the wearing of face masks at public rallies - but demonstrators vowed to defy it.
More than 2,300 people have been arrested since the civil disobedience began.
Pakistan arrests ‘top four leaders’ of JuD/LeT ahead of crucial FATF meeting
LAHORE, Oct 10: Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies on Thursday arrested the “top four leaders” of the banned LeT/JuD on charges of terrorism financing, a move that authorities say would put the “entire core leadership” of these outfits on trial.
The top four leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba /Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) arrested on Thursday have been identified as Professor Zafar Iqbal, Yahya Aziz, Muhammad Ashraf and Abdul Salam.
The development comes ahead of the Financial Action Task Force’s crucial plenary meeting scheduled to be held in Paris from October 12 to October 15. Pakistan was placed on the grey list by the Paris-based watchdog in June last year and was given a plan of action to complete it by October 2019, or face the risk of being placed on the black list with Iran and North Korea.
A spokesman for the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) said that there had been an “important progress” in the National Action Plan (NAP) as the main leaders of proscribed organisation JuD/LeT have been arrested by the CTD Punjab in offences of terrorism financing.
“JuD/LeT chief Hafiz Saeed is already in prison facing trial for commission of offences of terrorism financing. Now the entire core leadership of the JuD/LeT will be on trial,” the CTD said.
It further said the CTD Punjab has been investigating offences of terrorism financing wherein these accused had built assets using the funds raised through terrorism financing. “The suspects further used these assets to raise more funds for terrorism financing. Donors of several assets/properties are also under investigation for providing some of these assets to the suspects and their proscribed organisations namely JuD/LeT,” it said.
“The suspects had formed trusts, like Al-Anfaal Trust, which acted as front entities of these organisations. The assets/properties have already been frozen by the government,” it said, adding the suspects will be produced before the trial court on Friday. The CTD had arrested Saeed on July 17. He is detained at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.
The CTD said investigation was launched into financing matters of proscribed organisations -- JuD and LeT -- in connection with the implementation of UN Sanctions against these Designated Entities & Persons as directed by the NSC (National Security Committee) in its meeting on January 1, 2019 chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan for implementing the NAP.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The US, since 2012, has been offering a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
N Korea says talks 'broke down'; US calls it 'good discussions'
STOCKHOLM, Oct 6: North Korea and the United States walked away on Saturday with opposing assessments of nuclear talks in Sweden, which Pyongyang said broke down but Washington called "good discussions."
The United States accepted host Sweden's invitation to resume talks in two weeks' time, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
The discussions followed months of stalemate after a February meeting between the North's leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, and came after Pyongyang's defiant test of a sea-launched ballistic missile on Wednesday.
"The negotiations have not fulfilled our expectations and finally broke up... without any outcome. (It) is totally due to the fact that the US would not give up their old... attitude," the nuclear-armed North's leading negotiator Kim Myong Gil told reporters in Stockholm.
"The US raised expectations and offered suggestions like flexible approach, new methods and creative solutions but they have disappointed us greatly, and dampened our enthusiasm for negotiations by bringing nothing to the negotiation table," Kim Myong Gil said.
He added that North Korea stood "at the crossroads of dialogue or confrontation".
Kim Myong Gil's US counterpart was Stephen Biegun, Trump's special envoy.
Ortagus said in a statement that "the early comments from the DPRK delegation do not reflect the content or the spirit of today's eight-and-a-half-hour discussion."
"The US brought creative ideas and had good discussions with its DPRK counterparts," she said, using the North's formal acronym.
Ortagus said the United States "previewed a number of new initiatives" that would allow progress on the statement reached in Singapore at the first Trump-Kim summit last year.
The two leaders adopted a vaguely worded document on the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" but little progress has since been made on dismantling the North's nuclear programme.
US President Donald Trump says his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un ended with no agreement because he was not willing to lift all the sanctions on North Korea.
The two sides met at a heavily guarded venue on an island off Stockholm, several hundred metres (yards) from the North Korean embassy.
As the meeting got underway, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde tweeted: "I am encouraged that US and (North Korean) working level delegations are currently in Sweden to hold talks".
Dialogue, she said, was "needed to reach denuclearisation and peaceful solution".
Similar-level talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament were held in Stockholm in March 2018 and then in January this year.
North Korea claimed to have entered a new phase in its defence capability with Wednesday's test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile -- the most provocative since Pyongyang began dialogue with Washington in 2018.
North Korea frequently couples diplomatic overtures with military moves as a way of maintaining pressure on negotiating partners, analysts say, and may believe this weapons system gives it added leverage.
The Pentagon said Thursday the missile seems to have been launched from a "sea-based platform" and not a submarine.
Trump has said he sees no problem with a string of short-range missile tests conducted previously by North Korea, while insisting his personal ties with the North's leader remain good.
The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold closed-door talks early next week on the latest test, diplomats said.
Those talks were requested by Britain, France and Germany, as the European powers push for the world body to keep up pressure on Pyongyang which is under heavy US and UN sanctions over its weapons program.
North Korea is banned from ballistic missile launches by Security Council resolutions.
Since the US-North Korea talks began, Russia and China have been calling for the UN to start lifting sanctions so as to create momentum towards the North's denuclearisation. But the United States has refused.
"The United States and the DPRK will not overcome a legacy of 70 years of war and hostility on the Korean Peninsula through the course of a single Saturday," Ortagus said.
"These are weighty issues, and they require a strong commitment by both countries. The United States has that commitment."
Modi, Sheikh Hasina Sign 7 Pacts, Launch 3 Projects on LPG Import
NEW DELHI, Oct 5: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday met for bilateral talks and jointly inaugurate three projects to strengthen ties in diverse areas including defence and security, trade and connectivity.
The two countries signed 7 pacts in core areas such as transport, connectivity, capacity building and culture. Three projects involving the import of LPG from Bangladesh were also launched during the meeting.
Earlier, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called on Hasina. "EAM @DrSJaishankar had a warm conversation with Bangladesh PM #SheikhHasina. Reaffirmed India's highest priority to her relations with Bangladesh," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.
"The relations (between India and Bangladesh) have never been so close. Naturally, the focus of discussion will be bilateral relationship. When I say bilateral relationship, we are talking about the next steps the two countries should take now to get the relationship in a different trajectory," Kumar further said.
Her remarks came a week after she met Modi in New York and said that the NRC has become a matter of ‘great concern’ for Bangladeshis. The Indian PM is learnt to have assured his Bangladeshi counterpart and said that there is ‘nothing to be worried’ about since the two countries shared good relations.
The issue of implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was also likely discussed during the meeting between the two leaders.
Imran Khan warns PoK residents against crossing LoC
ISLAMABAD, Oct 5: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday asked the residents of PoK not to cross the Line of Control to extend humanitarian aid to the Kashmiri people after India removed the special status of the state two months back.
“I understand the anguish of the Kashmiris seeing their fellow Kashmiris in Jammu and Kashmir.... Anyone crossing the LoC to provide humanitarian aid or support for Kashmiri struggle will play into the hands of the Indian narrative,” Khan said in a tweet.
Khan’s advice comes a day after tens of hundreds of emotionally charged Kashmiris from different parts of PoK set out in vehicular and motorcycle rallies to Muzaffarabad on the call of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, the Dawn reported.
India has been condemning “provocative and irresponsible” statements against it by Khan over the Centre's move on Article 370.
In New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on Friday said the comments made by Khan do not behove the post he holds.
93 Dead as Iraq's Firebrand Cleric Demands Government's Resignation
BAGHDAD, Oct 5: The death toll from mass protests in Baghdad and cities across southern Iraq rose to 93 on Saturday as the unrest entered its fifth day, parliament's human rights commission said.
Nearly 4,000 people have also been injured since the protests against chronic unemployment, poor public services and widespread corruption erupted in the capital on Tuesday, the commission said.
It was not immediately clear whether the latest deaths were from Friday's huge protests or fresh demonstrations on Saturday.
The authorities have imposed a virtual blackout of the internet and confirmation of protest casualties in the provinces has trickled in slowly.
Iraqi firebrand cleric, Moqtada Sadr, called on the government to resign as violence spiked across the country and protesters clashed with police on the fourth day of deadly demonstrations against corruption and unemployment.
The former Shiite militia leader, whose bloc is the biggest in parliament, said in a statement that in order to avoid further deaths "the government should resign and early elections should be held under UN supervision". He said he could "not keep silent" as Iraqi blood was being shed.
Friday saw chaotic scenes of protests in Baghdad and other cities with at least 10 people killed, including four -- two police and two civilians -- who security forces said were shot dead by "unidentified snipers".
Sadr's statement piled new pressure on Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi as he battles to quell the unrest. It came after Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani urged authorities in a midday sermon to heed the demands of demonstrators, warning the protests could escalate unless immediate and clear steps are taken. In his first speech since protests began on Tuesday, the embattled premier appealed for patience from the young unemployed who have formed the mainstay of the protests, saying his less than a year-old government needed more time to implement reforms.
But despite his plea, a curfew and an internet blackout, Iraqis thronged the iconic Tahrir Square on Friday and clashed with the anti-riot police. Security forces opened up with a barrage of gunfire and reporters said they saw several people hit by bullets, some in the head and the stomach. "We're not infiltrators," protesters in the capital shouted, responding to accusations from Iraqi officials that "aggressors" were behind the protests.
Nationalism not a negative sentiment: Jaishankar
NEW DELHI, Oct 4: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday underlined the fact that there was no contradiction in being nationalistic and engaging with the world at the same time. He stressed that India was an outlier in that sense and that its economic ambitions do not sit at odds with its nationalism.
“India is an exception as we are more nationalistic, but at the same time we don’t see a tension between being nationalistic and being international, in the sense of engaging more with the world, so nationalism is not a negative sentiment,” S Jaishankar said while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Delhi.
Explaining the point further, he said in many negotiations India not only stands for its own interest but of the developing world when it comes to trade and climate change. The minister went on to add that it was “economic nationalism”.
Speaking about the regional cooperation, the minister said it has been a good story, barring one country in the neighbourhood.
“The entire neighbourhood, minus one, has been a fairly good story for regional cooperation,” said Jaishankar.
Asked if he would call the situation with the “minus one” a permanent impasse, the minister refused to buy the argument. “I wouldn’t. Then I would be admitting something is not possible that diplomacy has limits and I cannot ever accept that,” said the former top diplomat.
He added he hopes “even the minus one” will come around.
“With everybody else, trade is on the increase, business is on the increase and at some stage it would have an impact,” said Jaishankar.
The minister highlighted that if one were to travel around the world, south Asia, Indian subcontinent is among the least regionalised economies.
Jaishankar said that the intent was visible from the very start as shown by PM Modi when he invited the neighbouring leaders during his first swearing in ceremony in 2014. “We have to convince our neighbours that Indian economy is a lifting tide for all of them,” said the minister.
On the issue of Kashmir, the minister said he spoke about it extensively when he was in the US and explained to the people there how Article 370, which provided for Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, was only a temporary provision. He also stressed how the provisions of the article, now scrapped, were misaligned with the larger scheme of things envisaged for the country.
India criticises Imran's irresponsible call for march to LOC
NEW DELHI, Oct 4: The external affairs ministry on Friday strongly criticised Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks that called for jihad against India and asked people to march across the Line of Control (LoC), saying the comments did not behove the office held by him.
Delivering a speech at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on September 13, Khan had asked people to be prepared to march towards the LoC on his call. “Don’t go towards the LoC till I tell you to. I will tell you when to go and you shouldn’t go now,” Khan had told the rally.
“We condemn such irresponsible and provocative rhetoric in the strongest words. He doesn’t know how international relations are conducted. But the more serious thing is that he made an open call that you march on, and for jihad against India,” said external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, speaking in Hindi.
“His open call to cross the border and violate another country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and enter it, this statement does not behove the office he occupies,” Raveesh Kumar added.
The foreign ministry’s stinging attack on the Pakistan prime minister comes against the backdrop of efforts by Islamabad to internationalise the Kashmir issue. It is as part of this exercise that the leadership of Turkey and Malaysia, especially Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, had also made some statements. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told a weekly news briefing on Friday that these remarks too were factually incorrect and biased.
India has repeatedly criticised the Pakistani leadership in the weeks since the August 5 decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, accusing Khan and other leaders of war-mongering and calling for jihad in Kashmir.
“This is not the first time such a statement has come from Pakistan. The prime minister occupies a high constitutional office and he has made similar statements earlier too. You have heard his statement at the UN General Assembly and he has used quite provocative and irresponsible language,” Kumar said.
“This isn’t normal behaviour and we have repeatedly said Pakistan and its leaders do not behave the way a normal neighbour should. Not that we expect it from them, but sometimes, we do because they are a neighbour,” he said.
On the statements by Turkey and Malaysia, Kumar said India had friendly relations with Turkey, and deeply regrets that there have been repeated statements by the Turkish government since August 6 on a matter that “is completely internal to India”.
“These statements are factually incorrect, biased and unwarranted. We call upon the government of Turkey to get a proper understanding of the situation on the ground before they make any further statements on this issue,” he added.
India’s criticism of the remarks by Mahathir – who told the UN General Assembly that Jammu and Kashmir had been “invaded and occupied” and that India’s action in the state was “wrong” – was harsher.
Noting the traditionally good and friendly ties with Malaysia that had been strengthened in recent years, Kumar said: “Therefore, we were quite surprised and we deeply regret that the comment...made by the prime minister of Malaysia...is not based on facts.”
He said Jammu and Kashmir had signed the instrument of accession like other princely states that existed at the time of India’s independence, and it was Pakistan which “invaded and illegally occupied parts” of the state and this had been recognised by the international community.
“The current development in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is a purely internal matter of India and doesn’t involve any third country. The government of Malaysia should bear in the friendly relations between our two countries and desist from making such remarks,” he said.
Pak minister loses cool when asked to name 58 countries supporting them on Kashmir issue
ISLAMABAD, Oct 4: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi lost his cool on being asked to name the 58 countries that Prime Minister Imran Khan commended for backing Islamabad on its stance on the Kashmir issue at the UNHRC.
During a talk show on Pakistan TV channel Express News, Qureshi was asked the question as he had repeatedly endorsed Khan’s statement that 58 countries had supported Islamabad on the Kashmir issue, reported Sputnik news agency.
“On whose agenda are you working?” Qureshi snapped at talk show host Javed Chaudhry. “Are you going to tell me or decide which countries have or have not supported Pakistan at the UN?... You may write whatever you want!”
On being again pressed for endorsing Khan’s comment on his own Twitter handle, Qureshi said, No! No! Show me the tweet I have written, not what Prime Minister Khan has written. You have said my tweet... show that to me. I want my tweet.”
Oddly still, after the minister was shown the tweet, Qureshi said he found nothing wrong in the tweet. “I stand by what I have said. What is so surprising in this....whose agenda are you following?
India, US need to refresh ties in new world of ‘frenemies’: Jaishankar
WASHINGTON, Oct 2: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday said India and the United States will need to “refresh” ties as the old globalized world order built after 1945 gives way to an emerging arrangement marked by a “proliferation of frenemies”, friends who differ and competitors who cooperate.
The minister said the emerging order will be “multipolar” and “intensely competitive and driven by balance of power” instead of one based on “shared endeavours” and “collective security”. Competing powers will work together based on “convergence” of interests, not “congruence”.
The new era, the minister said, “calls for both India and the United States to press the refresh button of their relationship as the really important relationships in the world are the less transactional ones. They are driven by global assessments and are based on strengthening each other”.
Jaishankar did not explain what about the current state of India-US ties had prompted his call for hitting the refresh button, but he went on to express confidence in the state of the relationship.
“Recent events in our ties confirm that the deep convergences developed over the last two decades are now in full play. I am confident that a strategic appreciation of the emerging global landscape would only bring us closer.”
India’s relations with the US have been more transactional on President Donald Trump’s watch than in the past, as is true for all the other US relations.
The two sides are negotiating a trade deal to end current and outstanding issues going back by decades. They have also sought to manage competing interests regarding India’s traditional ties with Russia and Iran, one an arch-rival and the other a sworn enemy.
Jaishankar, who is highly regarded as a strategic thinker and is well known in US academia and policy circles, was speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a leading US think-tank, on “Preparing for a Different Era”, and his vision of a changing world order.
The foreign minister has had a series of think-tank events at which he has spoken expansively on all aspects of international relations with India in the middle — the US, Europe, China, the Gulf and the neighborhood. The host of one of them — not the CSIS — remarked the minister’s pronouncements could be the start of “the Jaishankar Doctrine”.
The post-Second World War global order stands eroded today, he said, because of “disenchantment with globalization, anger at mercantilism and an inability to accept changes”.
One of the key dimensions of the emerging world will be its multipolarity, with “an India or a Brazil will demand a greater voice with a growing economy”.
The other key dimension of this order, which will be driven by nationalistic and more transactional power centers that prefer balance of power to collective security, will be the “proliferation of frenemies”, “allies who publicly turn on each other; or competitors who are compelled to make common cause on issues.”
India’s trilaterals with the US and Japan on the one hand, and with Russia and China on the other, on the sidelines of the G-20 in recent years should be seen in this context of a changing world of countries brought together by convergence, Jaishankar said.
India also finds it “perfectly natural to engage a Chinese leader at Wuhan, the Russian one at Sochi and then go on to do the ‘2+2’ meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers with the United States”.
India’s recent decisions regarding Kashmir must be also considered in the backdrop of the emerging order, in which a different mindset was required, one in which issues that “were presumed to be intractable challenges will have to be addressed, not ducked”.
Vietnam to raise South China Sea situation in security dialogue with India
NEW DELHI, Oct 2: Vietnam will raise the situation in the South China Sea, including four intrusions by Chinese vessels into its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) since July, in the upcoming annual security dialogue with India this month, Vietnamese ambassador Pham Sanh Chau has said.
The latest intrusion by 28 Chinese vessels began on September 30 and was continuing despite more than 40 representations to the Chinese side since the first intrusion three months ago, the envoy said in an interview. “We told them they shouldn’t violate our waters and they should withdraw all the ships as soon as they can,” he said.
India is one of only three countries with which Vietnam has a comprehensive strategic partnership and the annual security dialogue is scheduled to be held in Ho Chi Minh City this month. “We hope we will be able to cover not only the security of the two countries but issues concerning the whole region, and especially, we will bring up the current situation in the South China Sea,” Pham Sanh Chau said.
All three previous Chinese deployments occurred close to waters where state-owned ONGC Videsh is engaged in energy production, people familiar with developments said. The Chinese vessels came closest to the ONGC Videsh facility during a deployment on July 3.
In August, India said it had an “abiding interest in the peace and stability” of the region and called for adherence to international laws, including the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea.
The envoy described defence and security cooperation, trade and investment, and collaboration in science and technology as priority areas for Vietnam in its relationship with India.
Both countries are working to operationalise a $500-million line of credit offered by India for defence purchases, he said. “It takes time because the two sides, especially the companies, have to exchange a lot of communications concerning the price, procedures and formalities, even the fiscal stability of the project. I think it’s on track, no issue about that. It just takes time,” he said.
Pham Sanh Chau also said India’s Indigo and Vietnam’s budget airline VietJet were set to start direct flights. Indigo will fly from Hanoi to Kolkata and connect the same evening to Delhi and other cities from October 3, while VietJet will fly from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to New Delhi every day, alternatively, from December 7, he said.
Both countries are also on track to achieve the target of boosting bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2020, though Vietnam had been hit by an Indian subsidy investigation for its stainless steel items and an anti-dumping probe for steel products, the envoy said.
Vietnamese farmers engaged in producing joss sticks for India’s agarbatti industry had been affected by the Indian commerce ministry’s decision a month ago to restrict imports of the raw material, he said. The total value of the agarbatti industry is $1 billion and Vietnam’s raw material exports amounted to $84 million, and the imports were restricted without a review period. “I urge India to review the decision,” he said.
Beijing cancels Gandhi Jayanti celebration at public park
BEIJING, Oct 2: The 150th-anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on Wednesday was hurriedly shifted to the Indian embassy premises after China denied permission for it to be held at a public park a day before the event.
The October 2 event has been annually conducted for over a decade at a folk art museum at the Chaoyang Park, a sprawling and popular public park in Beijing, which has the only sculpture of Gandhi in China.
The tradition was all set to continue until Tuesday when authorities of the venue Jintai Art Museum informed the embassy that the Beijing government had denied them permission to hold the events. No reason was offered for the abrupt denial.
It was learnt that embassy officials had visited the museum at least twice to prepare for the event.
Beijing is among the four municipalities directly administered by the central government in China.
The short morning event comprising a quiz competition for children on Gandhi, a recital of religious songs by members of the Indian community and speech by Ambassador Vikram Misri was then shifted to the embassy auditorium. The 150th birth anniversary celebrations continued at the embassy later in the evening where Ambassador Misri unveiled paintings of Gandhi done by a dozen Chinese artists.
There was no representation from the Jintai Art Museum at the embassy event either.
Official sources didn’t comment on the possible reason behind the cancellation but said it was done “at the last minute”.
The annual tradition of holding “Gandhi Jayanti” at the museum in the park had been more or less formalised since 2005 when the Gandhi sculpture was unveiled by visiting Indian home minister, Shivraj Patil.
“A sculpture for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the renowned father of the Indian nation, created by well-known Chinese painter Yuan Xikun was unveiled on Friday in Beijing’s Chaoyang Park. The statue, 1.08 meters in height and 1 meter in width, stands in the international friendship forest located in the western part of the park. It depicts Gandhi doing some reading,” official news agency, Xinhua had then reported.
The celebrations have been held at the same venue until last year.
The sudden snap in tradition comes ahead of an expected summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping later this month.
Modi and Xi are expected to meet in India for the second round of the “informal summit” mechanism later this month. Neither New Delhi nor Beijing, however, has officially confirmed the summit, its dates or the venue.
After an upswing in ties since April 2018, following the first “informal summit” in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, bilateral ties have recently been dampened recently following Beijing’s strong reaction to the change of status of Jammu & Kashmir.
Beijing subsequently supported Islamabad in internationalising the situation in Kashmir at the UN.
Flash-mob rallies erupt in Hong Kong after teenager protester shot at by police
HONG KONG, Oct 2: Flash-mob rallies broke out in Hong Kong on Wednesday as anger mounted over police shooting a teenage protester who attacked officers in a dramatic escalation of the violent unrest that has engulfed the territory for months.
A large crowd of demonstrators, including office workers in shirts and suits, mustered in a park and then began marching through the city’s commercial district in an unsanctioned rally, chanting anti-police and anti-government slogans.
Hundreds of students also staged a sit-in at the school of 18-year-old Tsang Chi-kin, who was shot in the chest by a policeman as he and a group of masked protesters attacked officers with umbrellas and poles.
The international finance hub has been left reeling from the shooting, the first time a demonstrator has been struck with a live round in nearly four months of increasingly violent pro-democracy protests.
Tuesday witnessed the worst clashes of the summer as China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule with a massive military parade in Beijing.
The spiralling violence underscored seething public anger against Beijing’s rule and shifted the spotlight from China’s carefully choreographed birthday party.
Running battles raged for hours across multiple locations as hardcore protesters hurled rocks and petrol bombs. Police responded for the most part with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.
As criticism rose the police launched a spirited defence of their colleague at a press conference on Wednesday saying he feared for his life and the safety of his colleagues
“He only had one option, that is to fire the gun to immediately resolve the danger,” deputy commissioner Mr Tang Ping-keung told reporters.
But protest groups said the officer charged into the melee with his firearm drawn and failed to fire a warning shot as they condemned the increasing use of live rounds.
Confident India-US trade dispute will be fixed soon: Jaishankar
WASHINGTON, Oct 1: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday that India and the United States are closing in on a resolution of their trade dispute after several rounds of talks.
“Tougher issues in the past have been resolved. So, I am reasonably confident. We will have a fix on the trade disputes (with the US),” said Jaishankar at a roundtable event organised by the Atlantic Council, an American think-tank.
He is currently on his maiden trip to Washington as the external affairs minister.
“The Indian economy has grown and the politics of the West has changed. So, the US is thinking beyond just the alliance sector,” the minister said.
On Monday, Jaishankar who met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had said that Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are discussing the details on how to address some of the trade issues between the two countries.
India and the US have engaged themselves with renewed vigour in recent days during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit when he met President Donald Trump in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings.
After the meeting with Modi at the UN, Trump had said that India and the US may soon sign a trade deal.
Trump had earlier complained that tariffs imposed by New Delhi on American products were “no longer acceptable” and had described India as a “tariff king”.
In June, the US had terminated India’s eligibility for a duty-free import scheme for developing countries under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).
India wants exemption from high duties imposed by the US on certain steel and aluminium products, resumption of export benefits to certain domestic products under the GSP, greater market access for its products from sectors, including agriculture, automobile, auto components and engineering.
India had been the single biggest beneficiary of the GSP programme and had chalked up exports of $5.7 billion of duty-free goods in 2017, according to figures from US Congress.
North Korea, US to resume talks this weekend
SEOUL, Oct 1: North Korea and the United States have agreed to resume nuclear negotiations this weekend following a months-long stalemate over the withdrawal of sanctions in exchange for disarmament, a senior North Korean diplomat said Tuesday.
Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s first vice minister of foreign affairs, said the two nations will have preliminary contact on Friday before holding working-level talks on Saturday.
In a statement released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, Choe expressed optimism over the outcome of the meeting but did not say where it would take place.
“It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-U.S. relations,” Choe said in the statement, using an abbreviation for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“I can confirm that U.S. and DPRK officials plan to meet within the next week. I do not have further details to share on the meeting,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who is traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Rome.
Nuclear negotiations have been at a standstill for months following a February summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam. Those talks broke down after the U.S. rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for partially surrendering its nuclear capabilities.
North Korea followed the summit with belligerent rhetoric and a slew of short-range weapons tests that were widely seen as an attempt to gain leverage ahead of a possible resumption of negotiations.
Choe’s announcement came after North Korea praised Trump last month for suggesting that Washington may pursue an unspecified “new method” in nuclear negotiations with the North. North Korea also has welcomed Trump’s decision to fire hawkish former National Security Adviser John Bolton, who advocated a “Libya model” of unilateral denuclearization as a template for North Korea.
The 2004 disarmament of Libya is seen by North Korea as a deeply provocative comparison because Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed following U.S.-supported military action in his country seven years after giving up a rudimentary nuclear program that was far less advanced than North Korea’s.
The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who lobbied hard to set up the first summit between Kim and Trump last year in Singapore, welcomed Choe’s announcement and expressed hope that the resumed talks would result in “substantial progress” in denuclearization and stabilization of peace.
That could be a tall order. In the high-stakes diplomacy between Trump and Kim, which has been driven chiefly by the personalities of the leaders rather than an established diplomatic process, working-level meetings have been useful for fleshing out the logistics of summits but unproductive in hammering out the details of a nuclear deal that has eluded the countries for decades.
The stalemate of past months has revealed fundamental differences between the two sides. North Korea says it will never unilaterally surrender its nuclear weapons and missiles and insists that U.S.-led sanctions against it should be lifted first before any progress in negotiations.
The Trump administration has vowed to maintain robust economic pressure until North Korea takes real steps toward fully and verifiably relinquishing its nuclear program.
Hong Kong protester shot in chest during China National Day rally
HONG KONG, Oct 1: Police shot tear gas volleys at protesters and key downtown subway stations were closed as simultaneous rallies raged across Hong Kong hours after Beijing held celebrations marking 70 years of Communist rule in China.
President Xi Jinping oversaw a military parade through the center of the capital that featured some of China’s most advanced weaponry, including ballistic missiles and warplanes. He kicked it off with a brief speech calling for stability in the Asian financial center and urging for unity among Chinese ethnic groups and and the country’s “complete unification.”’
Protests have rocked Hong Kong for almost four months, pushing back against China’s tightening grip over the city.
A protester was hit in the chest by a live round fired by police in Tsuen Wan, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an unnamed source. The newspaper said officers and first aid workers were seen tending to the man on the street.
MTR stations closed across city. Local train operator MTR Corp. said more than 20 stations were closed across Hong Kong, including in busy areas such as Wan Chai, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Prince Edward.
“Let’s see how they react -- I mean, the government. If they try to stop listening to us again then we will try to come out again and again. The government stopped listening to us and they just pretend they value us,” a 27-year-old university student who gave her name as Chong said about the future of the movement.