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US resumes military drills with South Korea ahead of talks with North in New York

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Washington : The United States and South Korea have resumed joint military exercises that were indefinitely suspended by President Donald Trump ahead of high-profile talks between top American and North Korean diplomats in New York later this week.

The two-week-long drills — dubbed the Korean Marine Exchange Program (KMEP) — kicked off on Monday around the southeastern port city of Pohang, according to a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of Defense.

Some 500 South Korean and American marines participate in the drills.

 

“The KMEP will start from November in accordance with the South Korea-US annual plan,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed official as saying. “It is an annual tactical combined forces training aimed at maintaining our joint defense posture.”

The KMEP, which was carried out 14 times in fiscal 2016 and 17 times in fiscal 2017, was suspended in June after Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a historic summit in Singapore in June, during which they agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Trump also promised to indefinitely suspend joint US-South Korea military exercises that were seen by Pyongyang as preparations to invade the North.

The US president said later that he saw no reason for “spending large amounts of money on joint US-South Korea war games.”

Pyongyang has so far taken several steps towards denuclearization, including shuttering its main nuclear test site with plans to dismantle several more. It has said it “expects reciprocal steps and not endless demands for full disarmament” from Washington, which has so far taken no moves in return.

The North says the least step Washington can take is to lift sanctions against the country, but the US insists that the restrictions would remain in place until North Korea is nuclear free.

The military maneuvers come as North Korea is scheduled to send Foreign Minister Kim Yong-chol to New York this week, where he is expected to hold talks with Secretary of State Pompeo over denuclearization and plans for a second summit between Trump and Kim.

It remains unclear if the drills will affect the planned talks.

Pompeo told CBS News on Sunday that he expected “some real progress including an effort to make sure that the summit between our two leaders can take place where we can make substantial steps towards denuclearization.”

But when asked if Pyongyang could expect sanctions relief, he said, “It is not only complete denuclearization, but our capacity to verify that that has taken place, is also a prerequisite to lifting economic sanctions.”

The North warned on Friday that it could restart development of its nuclear program if Washington does not drop its campaign of “maximum pressure” and sanctions.


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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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