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North Korea trying to protect nuclear, missile capabilities: UN

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UNITED NATIONS: North Korea`s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remain intact and the country is working to make sure those capabilities cannot be destroyed by any military strikes, according to a confidential report by UN sanctions monitors.

The report to a 15-member UN Security Council sanctions committee, seen by Reuters, comes ahead of a second planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this month. They initially met in June 2018 and Kim pledged to work towards denuclearization.

While Trump has hailed “tremendous progress” in his dealings with North Korea, the UN report found that Pyongyang “is using civilian facilities, including airports, for ballistic missile assembly and testing with the goal of effectively preventing `decapitation` strikes” on a smaller number of identified nuclear and missile assembly and manufacturing sites.”

 

The report said it “found evidence of a consistent trend on the part of the DPRK to disperse its assembly, storage and testing locations,” using the abbreviation for North Korea`s official name, the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the 317-page UN report, which was submitted to Security Council members on Friday.

The UN Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for Pyongyang`s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

“The country continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal,” the sanctions monitors found. “These violations render the latest UN sanctions ineffective.”

The monitors said they had evidence of one unprecedented prohibited petroleum product transfer of more than 57,600 barrels, worth more than $5.7 million.

They said the case highlighted “new sanctions evasion techniques that defeated the due diligence efforts of the region`s leading commodity trader, as well as the U.S.
and Singaporean banks that facilitated the fuel payments and a leading UK insurer that provided protection and indemnity cover to one of the vessels involved.”

The report accused North Korea of also violating a UN arms embargo and attempting “to sell a wide range of military equipment to armed groups and governments in the Middle East and Africa,” as well as small arms and light weapons to Libya, Sudan and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The UN monitors also noted “a trend in the DPRK`s evasion of financial sanctions using cyber-attacks to illegally force the transfer of funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.”

North Korea is subject to a ban on luxury goods and the monitors said they are investigating the public appearance of a relatively new Rolls-Royce Phantom limousine in Pyongyang on Oct. 7 last year, which usually sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Russia and China suggested the Security Council discuss easing sanctions after Trump and Kim met for the first time. But the United States and other council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts.


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Pakistan among the few countries to successfully turn tide against terrorism: Imran

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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.

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Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state

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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.

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Trump claims Queen had fun with him during his UK visit

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Washington: US President Donald Trump claimed that Britains 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 Trumps 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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