Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping offered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un firm backing in deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States, insisting the two sides should meet “halfway”, state media said.
Kim visited Beijing by train this week for two days of talks that reasserted China’s role in the process, and were seen as a strategy session ahead of a second summit between the North Korean leader and US President Donald Trump.
At their first meeting in Singapore in June, Kim and Trump signed a vaguely worded document with Kim pledging to work towards the “denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
But progress has since stalled with Pyongyang and Washington — which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea — disagreeing over what that means.
North Korea wants relief from the multiple sets of sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, while the US wants the measures to remain in place until it gives up its arms — something Pyongyang has made no public promise to do.
China also wants the sanctions relaxed and Xi said he “hopes that the DPRK and the United States will meet each other halfway” according to China’s state news agency Xinhua, using the initials of the North’s official name. Xi “spoke highly of the positive measures taken by the DPRK side”, it added.
North Korea has carried out six nuclear blasts and launched missiles capable of reaching the whole of the United States, but has carried out no such tests for more than a year, and blew up the entrances to a nuclear testing ground it said it no longer needed.
Pyongyang has rejected demands for what it calls its “unilateral” disarmament as “gangster-like”.
China is the North’s sole major ally and key trade partner but relations had deteriorated over Pyongyang’s nuclear activities, before warming up last year, with Kim meeting Xi three times.
Kim “raised concern” about the impasse in talks with the US, according to Pyongyang’s official KCNA news agency, which said the Chinese leader had issued a ringing endorsement of the North’s position.
“Xi Jinping said that the legitimate issues raised by the DPRK are rightful demands and that he fully agrees that the DPRK’s reasonable interests should be justly resolved,” it said.
26 killed as tour bus catches fire in China
Beijing: A tour bus caught fire in central China’s Hunan Province killing 26 people, local authorities said. The 28 injured in the incident were rushed to three local hospitals for treatment. Among them the condition of five were state to be critical, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted local officials as saying.
The accident occurred around when the 59-seater bus from neighbouring Henan province suddenly caught fire on a highway in Hanshou County in the city of Changde.
The bus had 53 passengers, two drivers and a tour guide at the time of the incident.
The two drivers were detained and an investigation into the cause of the accident is underway.
The incident came a day after 64 people lost their lives while 640 were injured in a powerful explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China. The blast occurred on Thursday following a fire in a fertilizer factory in a chemical industrial park in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, according to the government of Xiangshui county.
New Zealand bans Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto
Wellington: New Zealand has banned the possession and distribution of a manifesto believed to be written by the lone terrorist who carried out the March 15 Christchurch mosques carnage where 50 people were killed, officials said on Saturday.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification announced that the document is objectionable under the law, reports CNN.
The so-called “manifesto” of Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian charged with the massacre, spans more than 80 pages and is filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rants.
“There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech,’ which may be rejected by many right-thinking people, but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism,” said New Zealand’s Chief Censor David Shanks. “It crosses the line.”
The document was posted on social media and was sent to the office of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just before the shooting began.
On Thursday, Shanks called on the public to delete any copies, as well as online posts or links to the document.
People can also report any social media posts, links or websites.
“New Zealanders can all play a part in denying those who exhort hatred, killing and terror,” Shanks said.
“Do not support the murderous objectives of its author by republishing or distributing it.”
Earlier this week, authorities banned footage of the fatal shootings, including edited clips and still images.
Death toll climbs to 64 in one of China’s worst industrial blasts in years
Beijing: The death toll climbed to 64 in one of the worst industrial accidents of China in recent times which knocked down buildings, tossed children into air and caused a tremor equivalent to a magnitude-3.0 earthquake, officials said Saturday. The officials said that 24 others were missing.
The explosion occurred after a fire in the fertilizer factory in Jiangsu province on Thursday, according to the government of Xiangshui county. Thirty-four people were in a critical condition and 73 seriously injured, state-run China Daily reported. The death toll is expected to rise as several people have been critically injured.
Over 640 people were injured in the incident. More than 3,000 workers and around 1,000 residents have been relocated to safe places. The Ministry of Emergency Management said that 88 people were rescued from the scene.
Such is the scale of the devastation that the entire industrial park in the Yancheng resembled an area struck by a massive earthquake with almost all buildings demolished in one go.
It is the worst industrial accident since the massive explosion rocked the port area of Tianjin in 2015 in which 173 people were killed. The China earthquake centre reported an earthquake of 3.0 magnitude during the time of the blast. An aerial video posted by China Daily which provided the first detailed view of the area showed shocking images of the blast which has destroyed the entire neighbourhood, causing an extensive damage showcasing the destructive side of China’s unbridled industrial development.
Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical plant, where the blast took place, was flattened and 16 neighbouring factories were left with varying degrees of damage. The impact smashed windows and uprooted roofs of some buildings and reduced others to rubble. Officials claimed that the rivers outside the chemical industrial park were not polluted.
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