Wednesday October 18, 2017
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South Korea invites North for reunion talks

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

To discuss the reunion of families separated in the 1950-1953 Korean war, South Korea today proposed working-level talks with North Korea on September 7.

Millions of Koreans have been separated for six decades as the Korean war ended in a 1953 armistice. The last family reunion was held at North Korea’s mountain resort of Kumgang in February 2014. About 66,000 South Koreans — 12 percent of them aged above 90, are wait-listed for an eventual reunion, but only several hundred can be chosen each time.

The move came days after Koreas agreed on Tuesday to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula following a 43-hour marathon dialogue.

The reunion  programme began in a summit between North-South Korea in 2000.

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4 Ships Banned From All Ports For Violating North Korea Sanctions

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South Korea's naval ships take part in a military drill for possible attack from North Korea in the water of the East Sea, South Korea. voa

The U.N. Security Council has banned all nations from allowing four ships that transported prohibited goods to and from North Korea to enter any port in their country.

Hugh Griffiths, head of the panel of experts investigating the implementation of U.N. sanctions against North Korea, announced the port bans at a briefing to U.N. member states on Monday. A North Korean diplomat attended the hour-long session.

Griffiths later told several reporters that “this is the first time in U.N. history” that the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Pyongyang has prohibited ships from entering all ports.

He identified the four cargo ships as the Petrel 8, Hao Fan 6, Tong San 2 and Jie Shun.

According to MarineTraffic, a maritime database that monitors vessels and their moments, Petrel 8 is registered in Comoros, Hao Fan 6 in St. Kitts and Nevis, and Tong San 2 in North Korea. It does not list the flag of Tong San 2 but said that on Oct. 3 it was in the Bohai Sea off north China.

Griffiths said the four ships were officially listed on Oct. 5 “for transporting prohibited goods,” stressing that this was “swift action” by the sanctions committee following the Aug. 6 Security Council resolution that authorized port bans.

That resolution, which followed North Korea’s first successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, also banned the country from exporting coal, iron, lead and seafood products. Those goods are estimated to be worth over $1 billion – about one-third of the country’s estimated $3 billion in exports in 2016.

The Security Council unanimously approved more sanctions on Sept. 11, responding to North Korea’s sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion on Sept. 3.

These latest sanctions ban North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates, and cap its crude oil imports. They also prohibit all textile exports, ban all joint ventures and cooperative operations, and bars any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers-key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.

Both resolutions are aimed at increasing economic pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – the country’s official name – to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs.

Griffiths told U.N. diplomats that the panel of experts is getting reports that the DPRK “is continuing its attempts to export coal” in violation of U.N. sanctions.

“We have as yet no evidence whatsoever of state complicity, but given the large quantities of money involved and the excess capacity of coal in the DPRK it probably comes as no surprise to you all that they’re seeking to make some money here,” he said.

Griffiths said the panel is “doing our very best to monitor the situation and to follow up with member states who maybe have been taken advantage of by the tactics deployed by DPRK coal export entities.”

As for joint ventures and cooperative arrangements, Griffiths said the resolution gives them 120 days from Sept. 11 to close down.

But “in a number of cases, the indications are that these joint ventures aren’t shutting down at all but are on the contrary expanding _ and therefore joint ventures is a major feature of the panel’s current investigations,” he said.

Griffiths also asked all countries to pay “special attention” to North Korea’s Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, also known as the Mansudae Art Studio, which is on the sanctions blacklist and subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.

According to the sanctions listing, Mansudae exports North Korea workers to other countries “for construction-related activities including for statues and monuments to generate revenue for the government of the DPRK or the (ruling) Workers’ Party of Korea.”

Griffiths said Mansudae “has representatives, branches and affiliates in the Asia-Pacific region, all over Africa and all over Europe.” Without elaborating, he added that “they’re doing an awful lot more than producing statues in Africa.” (voa)

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North Korea Threatens Japan of Nuclear Destruction, Calls its Actions ‘Suicidal’

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated to its highest levels over Pyongyang's ongoing nuclear weapons programme

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , VOA

Pyongyang, October 3, 2017 : North Korea on Tuesday threatened Japan with nuclear destruction in response to Tokyo’s attempts to convince the international community to reject dialogue in favor of applying more pressure on Pyongyang.

In an article released by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang responded to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech at the UN General Assembly last month, in which he called for “pressure, not dialogue” to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Kim Jong-un’s regime accused Abe of “using the ‘theory of crisis on the Korean peninsula'” for political purposes, and in particular to “facilitate Japan’s militarisation and at the same time strengthen inside unity and save the present rulers driven into a tight corner with corruption and irregularities”, reports Efe news.

The article added that Abe had already shown his “sinister political goal” with measures such as increasing defence costs and calling snap elections.

“Japan’s rackets inciting the tension of the Korean peninsula is a suicidal deed that will bring nuclear clouds to the Japanese archipelago.

“No one knows when the touch-and-go situation will lead to a nuclear war, but if so, the Japanese archipelago will be engulfed in flames in a moment,” the article said, stressing that if the Japanese people, “the first victim of nuclear disaster in the world, are offered in sacrifice owing to handful militarist reactionaries’ political aim, it will be a tragedy of the century”.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have escalated to its highest levels over Pyongyang’s ongoing nuclear weapons programme.

After a series of missile launches this year, North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb at a nuclear testing facility on September 3, which prompted another round of UN sanctions and international condemnation. (IANS)

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Donald Trump Expands Travel Ban, Restricts Visitors from 8 Countries

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President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Air Force One at Morristown,Municipal airportN.J. (source: VOA)

Washington, September 25:— The revised US travel ban will restrict travellers from eight countries to visit the United States, says an order signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday. The new travel ban, which takes effect on, October 18, will restrict residents of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

According to the U.S. officials, these countries have refused to share information about terrorism and other issues with the United States.The new travel ban drops Sudan from the list but adds Chad, Venezuela and North Korea to the original six Muslim-majority countries.

The announcement late Sunday came as Trump’s previous temporary travel ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries was expiring, 90 days after it went into effect. The earlier order had barred citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. unless they had a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

US President Donald Trump’s travel ban inflicts “Significant harm” on Muslim Americans

Reaction to the president’s order from human-rights organizations and other groups that work with immigrants was largely negative.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said the latest version of the “Muslim ban” that Trump tried to introduce on taking office earlier this year as part of the administration’s “ugly white supremacist agenda.”

Trump said in the new proclamation: “As president, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people. The restrictions announced are tough and tailored, and they send a message to foreign governments that they must work with us to enhance security.”

Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.Trump last week called for a “tougher” travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.