Thursday, January 4, 2018

N Korea and S Korea hotline reopens

UK and other countries have welcome the move of  neighboring nations on hotline once again.North Korea has reopened a hotline with South Korea to discuss issues including sending athletes to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. This comes after Seoul said it wants high-level talks with Pyongyang.
Inter-Korean relations have been showing signs of a thaw, following conciliatory remarks by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his New Year address.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry released a photo of an official speaking on the hotline.
The two sides reportedly spoke for about 20 minutes, to check that the line is working properly. But the Ministry did not disclose what else was discussed.
The hotline had been shut down since February 2016.
Ahead of the restoring contact, North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea made an announcement on state television.
The committee’s Ri Son Gwon said, “Our country will cooperate with the South in connection with issues, such as our participation in the PyeongChang Olympics.”
South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesperson was positive on the development.
The spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun said, “Our country welcomes the North’s response to our proposal of normalizing our communication channel. The channel can be used to arrange talks between officials from the two sides and other working-level issues.”

Pakistan is using terrorists as part of foreign policy

United States National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has alleged Islamabad only goes after terrorists “selectively” while it “sustains and supports others who act as an arm of its foreign policy.”  US President Donald Trump is “frustrated” but also values a “partnership with Pakistan” said media meet VOA, further adds, the US president’s tweet was not a “blame game” rather termed it America’s “effort to communicate clearly to Pakistan that our relationship can no longer bear the weight of contradictions, and that we have to really begin now to work together to stabilize Afghanistan.”
McMaster blamed  Pakistan is “operating against the interested of its own people” by “providing safe havens and support bases for Taliban and Haqqani network leadership” who “perpetuate hell in portions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
 US President Donald Trump’s administration has been informing members of Congress that it will announce as soon as Thursday its plans to cut off “security assistance” to Pakistan, congressional aides said Wednesday, a day after the White House warned Islamabad it would have to do more to maintain US aid.
Aides in two congressional offices said the State Department called on Wednesday to inform them that it would announce Wednesday or Thursday that aid was being cut off, although it was not clear how much, what type or for how long.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders declined to say whether an announcement was imminent. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The calls to Capitol Hill came a day after Washington accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” on fighting terrorism and warned Islamabad it would have to do more if it wanted to maintain US aid.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan.

UN calls for peaceful resolution in Iran

UN human rights chief has urged the Iranian government to achieve a peaceful resolution to the ongoing protests sweeping the country.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called on the authorities to handle the wave of protests with great care so as not to further inflame violence and unrest.He said he is deeply disturbed by reports that more than 20 people, including an 11-year-old boy, have died and hundreds have been arrested. He stressed that the issue must be resolved through dialogue.
Zeid also called for independent and impartial investigations into deaths and serious injuries that have occurred so far. He said the authorities must respect the rights of all demonstrators and detainees, including their right to life, and guarantee their safety and security.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also expressed concern about the loss of life during the protests. He called for avoiding further violence in a statement released on Wednesday.

India’s EAM engagement with ASEAN countries

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left on a 5-day visit to Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore today.
On the first leg of her visit, Mrs Swaraj will reach Thailand and hold a meeting with Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai. All aspects of bilateral relations with Thailand will be discussed with particular focus on political, defence and economic ties and on further enhancing India’s engagement with ASEAN countries.
During the visit to Indonesia, Ms Swaraj will co-chair the 5th meeting of India-Indonesia Joint Commission with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.
The Ministers will also inaugurate the second meeting of ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks. Mrs Swaraj will also call President of Indonesia and will interact with representatives of the Indian community. She will also meet the new Secretary General of ASEAN Lim Jock Hoi.
In Singapore, the External Affairs Minister will inaugurate the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas of ASEAN countries on 7th of this month.
She will have bilateral meetings with the leaders in Singapore and also interactions with PIO delegations from ASEAN countries, who are participating in Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.
On all three legs of her visit, Ms Swaraj will share with her interlocutors relevant information about the forthcoming ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit which marks 25 years since the establishment of Dialogue Partnership between Indian and ASEAN.

Winter storm hits Southeast USA

A rare winter storm has hit the Southeast United States, dumping snow on Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, for the first time in three decades. The governors of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia declared states of emergency, warning residents to expect icy roads and freezing temperatures. Schools have also been shut in New York City due to the weather. The National Weather Service said, New York could see 5 to 8 inches of snow and wind gusts as high as 80 kilometres per hour today.
New England also braced for a blizzard which is expected to bring heavy accumulations.
Sustained cold spell has also frozen parts of Niagara Falls on the American and Canadian sides. It played havoc with public works causing pipes to freeze and water mains to burst.
At least nine deaths have been reported over the past few days.

Eleanor batters western Europe

Winter storm Eleanor, packing winds up to 160 KPH, battered parts of western Europe, derailing trains, halting flights and toppling trees. Authorities said, one person was killed and several others were injured in Switzerland and France. The high winds played havoc on transport, derailing trains in Switzerland and Germany and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes across France, Switzerland, Britain and Ireland without power.
Officials said, one skier was killed in the French Alps after being hit by a falling tree in Morillon.
In Switzerland, several people were injured when a train was blown off the tracks near Lenk in city of Bern. The storm forced the cancellation of flights at Zurich and Basel airports.In France, 15 people were injured following accidents caused by high winds.

Indo-Russia strategic ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have vowed to strengthen Indo-Russia strategic ties.
During a telephone conversation yesterday, the two leaders discussed the intensification of the bilateral relations between India and Russia and their cooperation in the international forums.
A release from the Indian Embassy in Moscow said, both leaders agreed to further strengthen the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia.
They positively reviewed the exchanges between the two countries in 2017. The release said, Mr Modi also greeted the Russian leader on the occasion of the New Year.

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