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Pakistan denies discussing nuclear deal with US

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Islamabad: Pakistan has denied a White House claim that it was working with the US towards a pact that would limit Islamabad’s nuclear arsenal, the media reported on Monday.

“No deal is being discussed between the two countries. Nor has the US made any demand on Pakistan,” foreign office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said here.

“History is a testimony to the fact that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepts no demand from any state,” The Nation newspaper quoted him as saying.

The statement said the prime minister firmly believed in policies directed at preserving, protecting and promoting Pakistan’s national interests, the media reports said.

Sharif, who was to leave for the US on Sunday night, delayed his travel to receive briefing from the head of the ISI intelligence agency who returned from the US the same night.

Sharif’s key aides, Sartaj Aziz and Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, are already in Washington, meeting US officials on issues of bilateral interest and regional importance.

White House officials said on Thursday they have started talks that could ultimately govern the scale of Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal.

Such a deal, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, was based on US concerns that Pakistan could be on the verge of deploying a small tactical nuclear weapon – very similar to those placed in Europe by the US during the Cold War to deter Soviet Union.

“There has been a lot of public speculation about this,” Earnest said.

“At this point, the US has been engaged with Pakistan, as well as the rest of the international community, on issues related to nuclear safety and security.”

Earnest, however, added that the current climate of discussions between Washington and Islamabad were not at a level where officials might expect a deal to be reached by the time Sharif reaches the US on October 22.

Pakistani official sources were quoted as saying that Sharif would reach Washington on Tuesday after a night halt in London.

Before leaving Islamabad, Sharif said Pakistan was “a responsible sovereign nuclear state” and that “its strategic assets are secured under a foolproof arrangement”.

(IANS)

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‘Keep up the pressure on North Korea’; Here is what North Korean Defectors want Trump to know

The defectors want Trump to persuade China, Pyongyang’s only remaining ally, to stop repatriating North Koreans who take refuge there.

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Ji Seong-ho, North Korean refugee and president of Now Action and Unity for Human Rights. VOA

Washington, November 4, 2017 : Four North Korean defectors have told VOA in video messages intended for U.S. President Donald Trump what they want him to do and say during his visit to South Korea.

The messages were delivered ahead of Trump’s departure Friday morning for a 12-day, five-nation tour which is expected to focus on tensions over North Korea’s its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. He is scheduled to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Nov. 7.

North Korea is expected to dominate their conversation at a time when recent polls show Americans consider North Korea to be the most immediate threat to the United States.

“If [Trump’s] coming to strengthen Korea-U.S. relations, he’s welcome, but if he’s coming to foment a war between the two Koreas, I cannot welcome him,” said Kim Young Soo, a defector and former soldier who arrived in South Korea in 2006. “As a head of state, I think he could be more discreet when talking about a war.”

The defectors want Trump to persuade China, Pyongyang’s only remaining ally, to stop repatriating North Koreans who take refuge there.

“While seeking freedom, they are put at risk of being captured by Chinese authorities and being forcibly returned to North Korea,” said Ji Seong-ho, a defector. “They may even face death. So I sincerely would like to ask President Trump to urge China’s Xi Jinping to stop repatriation of North Koreans so that they can attain their dreams of freedom.”

And they want him to keep up the pressure on North Korea with sanctions.

“It’ll take an insurgency against the regime to bring about a revolution,” said Ri Sun Kyong, who arrived to South Korea in 2002. “Every single country in the world should not help (North Korea) in any way. Instead, they should increase pressure so an insurgency takes place.”

Trump, who has signed a sweeping executive order increasing U.S. authority to sanction companies that finance trade with North Korea, has said all options are on the table in dealing with Kim.

Amid the leaders’ war of words — Trump has said if Pyongyang launches an attack on the U.S. or its allies, there is “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” and Kim has said, “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire” — the Trump administration has also been pushing other countries to end or curtail their diplomatic ties to North Korea. (VOA)

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Kim Jong-un Applauds North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programme Despite US Sanctions

The leader said Pyongyang's nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was "safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia"

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un , VOA

Seoul, October 8, 2017 : North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lauded his country’s nuclear weapons programme as the best way to defend its sovereignty and counter threats from the US.

Speaking to the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang on Saturday, Kim Jong-un said “nuclear weapons of North Korea are a precious fruition borne by its people’s bloody struggle for defending the destiny and sovereignty of the country from the protracted nuclear threats of the US imperialists”, Efe reported citing state news agency KCNA.

Kim, also the chairman of the WPK, said Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, which has led to multiple missile tests this year as well as the detonation of a hydrogen bomb, was “safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia”.

He added his country’s nuclear ambitions have provided the foundations for strong economic development, despite sanctions imposed by the “US imperialists and their vassal forces” to force North Korea into abandoning its weapons programme.

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

During the plenary session, which is held at least once a year, the North Korean leader’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong was elected to the party’s politburo, a sign of her rising importance and clout within the North Korean regime.

Choe Ryong-hae, a close aide of the leader, joined the party’s Central Military Commission, while Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho was appointed to the central committee’s politburo, according to the state agency. (IANS)

 

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India third among the countries that have faced most natural disasters in the last half century, says UN Secretary General

"It is high time to get off the path of suicidal emissions. We know enough today to act"

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UN Secretary General , António Guterres
UN Secretary General, António Guterres. Wikimedia
  • The UN Secretary General has said on Tuesday, that India ranked third among the countries that have faced most natural disasters in the last half century 
  • Guterres listed climate change among the seven global threats needing immediate global action 
  • He called for intensifying the global efforts against terrorism and radicalization 

New Delhi, September 20, 2017: India ranked third among the countries that have faced the most natural disasters in the last half century, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday pleading for unwavering international action on climate change.

In his first speech to the annual high-level meeting of the General Assembly, he said, “It is high time to get off the path of suicidal emissions. We know enough today to act.”

“I urge governments to implement the historic Paris Agreement with ever greater ambition,” he said.

United States President Donald Trump has declared that his country is pulling out of the Paris agreement on combating climate change.

Pointedly, Guterres said, “The United States, followed by China, India, the Philippines and Indonesia, have experienced the most disasters since 1995 – more than 1,600, or once every five days.”

Climate change was among the seven global threats that he listed needing immediate global action.

International terrorism is taking a great toll on the world, he said and called for intensifying the global efforts against terrorism and radicalisation.

“Stronger international cooperation remains crucial,” he said. “Together, we need to make full use of UN instruments, and expand our efforts to support survivors.

But he added, “Experience has also shown that harsh crackdowns and heavy-handed approaches are counterproductive.”

Foremost among the seven perils he listed is the nuclear threat emanating from North Korea.

“Global anxieties about nuclear weapons are at the highest level since the end of the Cold War,” Guterres warned. “The fear is not abstract. Millions of people live under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

He appealed to the Security council to act unitedly to meet the threat and to all countries to comply with its resolution imposing sanctions.

“Only that unity can lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and — as the resolution recognises — create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement to resolve the crisis,” he said while condemning Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

“The dark side of innovation” is another global peril, he said, adding “it has moved from the frontier to the front door.”

Also readWorld Riddled with Genocide, War Crimes and Ethnic Cleaning; ‘We Must Do More’, Asserts UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

“Cyber war is becoming less and less a hidden reality — and more and more able to disrupt relations among States and destroy some of the structures and systems of modern life,” he said.

Genetic engineering has also raised ethical questions that have not been resolved, he said.

The humanitarian crisis from unresolved conflicts and violations of international law that is manifested in the flow of refugees is another peril the world faces, he said.

He mentioned the Rohingya crisis, and said, “The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations, and allow unhindered humanitarian access. They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya.”

The other threats are the growing inequality among nations and within nations, and human migration.

Emphasising the need for global unity to meet the great perils facing humanity, Guterres said, “We come from different corners of the world. Our cultures, religions, traditions vary widely — and wonderfully. At times, there are competing interests among us. At others, there is even open conflict.”

“That is exactly why we need the United Nations, he said. “That is why multilateralism is more important than ever.” (IANS)