Seoul:The golden doors on the stately North Korean building swung open and leader Kim Jong Un, in a black Mao suit and surrounded by a gaggle of officials, descended steps towards the border.
Not since the 1950-53 Korean War had a North Korean leader set foot on South Korean soil.
With a smile, Kim stretched out his hand toward a waiting, and smiling, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who stood between the squat, blue buildings that straddle the border at Panmunjom.
The village is one of the few places where there are no barbed wire fences or minefields between the two countries, separated by a conflict that ended with a truce, not a treaty, in 1953, meaning they are still technically at war.
“I was excited to meet at this historic place and it is really moving that you came all the way to the demarcation line to greet me in person,” Kim said as he grasped Moon’s hand across the border.
“It was your big decision to make it here,” said Moon, dressed in a dark suit and light blue tie, who invited Kim to step over the line in the pavement, which he did.
That’s something Kim’s grandfather, the North Korean regime’s founding leader Kim Il Sung, or his father, Kim Jong Il, never did.
Two previous summits between leaders of the Koreas, in 2000 and 2007, were in Pyongyang, the North’s capital.
Shaking hands again, Moon, 65, and Kim, 34, turned to face photographers in the North, and then the South, before Kim grabbed Moon’s hand and, in an unplanned move, invited him to step across the border into the North, where they stood face-to-face to talk a bit more.
Kim said he felt a “swirl of emotion” as he walked the short distance to the border, wondering “why it took so long”, he told Moon later, at the beginning of their meeting.
Later, as the afternoon sun set, the two men sat at a small table on a blue footbridge along the border for a half-hour private chat, at turns laughing and looking serious – an extraordinary scene given the tension just months ago, as a defiant North conducted missile and nuclear tests.
Since January, relations have improved. Their Olympic teams march together under a common flag at February’s winter games in South Korea.
As the two men started their meeting in the Peace House on the southern side of the border, both seemed aware of the gravity of the occasion.
The whole world is watching” with high expectations, Moon said. “We have a lot on our shoulders.”
He said Kim’s crossing of the border had transformed Panmunjom into a “sign of peace, not a sign of division”.
“With determination, we will be heading toward a better place to make up for the lost 11 years,” he said, referring to the last summit.
Their two-hour morning meeting was marked with laughter and some banter, as well as more serious discussion, behind closed doors, officials said.
Kim mentioned the contentious issue of North Korean defectors – who are routinely denounced in North Korean media as “human scum” – and even referred to the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, which North Korean forces shelled in 2010, killing four people.
“Coming here, I saw people are having high hopes for the summits – including … defectors and residents of Yeonpyeong Island – those who used to worry about North Korea’s missiles coming to them at any time,” Kim said, according to Yoon.
Kim said he had heard good things about a South Korean high-speed train built for the Winter Olympics, and expressed concern that North Korea’s traffic system would “cause inconvenience” should Moon visit.
The two men went back to their separate sides for lunch, Kim driven in a black limousine and escorted by a dozen bodyguards in dark suits and ties jogging alongside the vehicle.
Pakistan among the few countries to successfully turn tide against terrorism: Imran
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the country condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including state-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. The PM stated that Pakistan is “among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism”.
Addressing the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit at Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Khan reiterated that Pakistan is ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. He added that growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. He further said that Pakistan will remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives.
Speaking on Afghanistan, PM Khan said that “the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution”, adding that Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for “peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process”.
“Excellencies, The world stands at a crossroads. For the first time in ages, we are seeing the advent of a multi-polar global order. Epicentres of economic power and growth momentum are shifting eastwards. Regional integration is speeding up. Disruptive technologies are maturing. Threats from terrorism to climate change to narcotics to bacterial resistance continue to loom large,” said PM Khan.
“There are increasing barriers to open trade and innovation. Meanwhile, growing intolerance and Islamophobia are threatening to accentuate religious fault-lines. For its part, Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including State-terrorism against people under illegal occupation. We are among the few countries to have successfully turned the tide against terrorism,” added the Pakistan PM.
“Pakistan remains ready to share its experience and expertise in counter-terrorism. We will also remain actively engaged in SCO’s counter-terrorism initiatives. Excellencies, There is finally a realization that the conflict in Afghanistan has no military solution. Pakistan is fully supporting efforts for peace and reconciliation, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process,” further said Pakistan PM Khan.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reiterated India’s strong stand against terrorism and appealed that countries supporting, aiding and funding terrorism must be held accountable. PM Modi highlighted the spirit and ideals of SCO to strengthen cooperation in the fight against terrorism even as Khan looked on.
Without naming Pakistan, a country that has made state-sponsored terrorism its biggest policy to counter India for the last several decades, PM Modi said every country needs to come together, unite and fight against the scourge.
Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Moscow: Vladimir Putin has said Russia will fight for an independent Palestinian state, and called for the issues of the Middle East to be resolved through peaceful means.
Despite international criticism over Russia’s own role in the Ukrainian crisis, Mr Putin was hailed last week by a St Petersburg Cossack group for his ability to “bring order and stop wars”.
In an address to the Arab League summit in Egypt on Saturday, Putin spoke against foreign intervention in countries’ internal disputes and spoke of the role Russia can play in diplomatic channels.
While Russia openly opposes the stance of US-backed Israel on the Gaza crisis, its position in the Middle East is complicated. Putin is one of Iran’s key allies, but as he spoke on Saturday the core nations of the Arab League engaged in air strikes on the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.
His attempts to urge a peaceful solution in Yemen haven’t had much of an immediate impact – on Sunday, the Arab League agreed to the creation of a joint military forces comprised of around 40,000 elite troops to resolve the future “challenges” of the Middle East.
As one of the “Quartet” entities involved in Middle East peace negotiations, Russia has played a key role in talks about the fallout of last year’s Gaza crisis.
He told the summit this weekend: “Palestinians have the right to establish an independent and habitable state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
“Russia will continue to contribute to achieving this goal through bilateral and multilateral channels,” he said.
Trump claims Queen had fun with him during his UK visit
Washington: US President Donald Trump claimed that Britain
s Queen Elizabeth II had more fun during his state visit to the UK than in the last 25 years."I have such a great relationship, and we were laughing and having fun. And her people said she hasnt had so much fun in 25 years. Then I got criticized for it because they said we were having too much fun,” the Hill quoted Trump as saying.
Trump`s comments come two weeks after his first state visit to London to meet the 93-year-old monarch. During his three-day visit, the president dined with the Queen, members of the British royal family and other British politicians at Buckingham Palace.
Trump and the queen reaffirmed the importance of the Washington-London relationship during an elaborate state banquet.”On behalf of all Americans I offer a toast to the eternal friendship of our people, the vitality of our nations and to the long cherished and truly remarkable reign of her majesty, the queen,” Trump said in his toast during the event.
He also met Prime Minister Theresa May. Opposing Trump
s visit, thousands of people hit the streets. TheTrump Baby` blimp was flown by the demonstrators outside the Houses of Parliament, according to CNN, alongside a 16-foot robot version of Trump sitting on the toilet and tweeting.
Other activists came dressed as gorillas, with signs reading that they “only eat chlorinated chicken” — a nod to concerns in Britain that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US would mean a decline in food standards for imported produce.
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