North Korea and China announce visit by Xi Jinping envoy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AND THE NORTH KOREAN NEWS ‘DPRK’)

 

North Korea and China announce visit by Xi Jinping envoy

Unclear if illegal nuclear program is on the agenda after Donald Trump asked Chinese president to put pressure on neighbor

Donald Trump has called on Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea.
 Donald Trump has called on Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

A senior Chinese diplomat will visit North Korea from Friday as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing has said, without revealing whether it is about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

China has pushed for a diplomatic solution to the crisis but in recent months has had only limited high-level exchanges with North Korea. The last time China’s special envoy for North Korea visited the country was in February 2016.

In a brief dispatch, the official Xinhua news agency said Song Tao, who heads the Communist party’s external affairs department, would “inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK”. CPC refers to China’s recently concluded Communist party congress at which Xi further cemented his power.

North Korea’s KCNA news agency confirmed the visit but said only that it would take place “soon”.

The trip will come a week after Donald Trump visited Beijing as part of a lengthy Asia tour where he pressed for greater action to rein in North Korea, especially from China, with which North Korea does 90% of its trade.

It is not clear how long Song could stay but he has already visited Vietnam and Laos to inform them of the results of the Congress, a typical courtesy China extends other communist countries after such important meetings.

It is also unclear where Song will meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Kim and Xi exchanged messages of congratulations and thanks to the Chinese party congress but neither has visited the other’s country since assuming power.

Song’s department is in charge of the party’s relations with foreign political parties and has traditionally served as a conduit for Chinese diplomacy with North Korea.

A department official said in October that China’s Communist party continued to hold talks and maintain contacts with its North Korean counterpart, describing the two countries’ friendship as important for regional stability.

China’s new special envoy for North Korea, Kong Xuanyou, who took up his position in August, is not believed to have visited the country yet.

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Iceland’s president asks opposition Left-Greens to form coalition

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER)

 

Iceland’s president asks opposition Left-Greens to form coalition

President takes unusual step of asking leader of second largest party to form coalition following Saturday’s snap general election

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, leader of the Left-Greens
 Katrín Jakobsdóttir, leader of the Left-Greens. Photograph: Birgir Thor Hardarson/EPA

Iceland’s president has asked the leader of the Left-Green Movement, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, to form a new government, although it came second in Saturday’s snap general election.

The mandate deals a blow to the prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson of the Independence party – who called the election in September after less than a year in office as a scandal involving his father prompted a government ally to drop out of his ruling coalition.

“I have a formal mandate to try to form a government,” Jakobsdóttir told reporters after talks with the president, Guðni Jóhannesson.

Under the Icelandic system, the president – who holds a largely ceremonial role, usually tasks the leader of the biggest party with putting a government together.

The former journalist led her party to second place with 11 seats in Saturday’s vote. Benediktsson’s Independence party – which has dominated Icelandic politics for decades – won the most seats, but fell short of a parliamentary majority.

A Left-Green-led coalition would be possible if they joined forces with the Social Democrats, the Progressive party and the Pirate party. Together, they would hold 32 of parliament’s 63 seats.

If her talks to form a coalition are successful, then the Left-Green Movement and its partners would become the country’s second left-leaning government since its independence from Denmark in 1944.

The Left-Green election campaign was focused on inequality.

The Nordic island of 340,000 people, one of the countries hit hardest by the 2008 financial crisis, has seen an economic rebound spurred by a tourism boom. But a string of political scandals have hurt trust in government in recent years.

Jakobsdóttir has promised to make sure Iceland’s economic prosperity, triggered by booming tourism, leads to a boost in public spending on health and education.

Growing public distrust of the elite in recent years has spawned several anti-establishment parties, fragmenting the political landscape and making it increasingly difficult to form a stable government.

The Panama Papers, which revealed offshore tax havens, listed more than 600 Icelanders – in a country of just 346,750 people – including Benediktsson.

Jakobsdóttir is free of scandal and served as education minister for Iceland’s first left-leaning government, which took power after the nation’s devastating 2008 economic collapse.

“When we are in a situation of having such great distrust in politicians, she’s the person you would like to invite to your home and have coffee with,” said Egill Helgason, a political commentator for public broadcaster RUV.

Married with three sons, Jakobsdóttir graduated from the University of Icelandand later received a master’s degree in Icelandic literature after writing a thesis on the popular crime writer Arnaldur Indriðason.

Surveys suggest she garners most of her support from voters aged between 18-29, in particular women, and that she appeals to an electorate beyond the Left-Green Movement’s base.

“I think she would be a strong leader … because she has been a member of the parliament for a long time among corrupt people and still stayed true to herself,” said Sólkatla Ólafsdóttir, a 26-year-old supporter of the anti-establishment Pirates party.

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I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.Thomasine F-R.

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London Mayor (Rightfully) Suggest (Trump The Ignorant) Not Be Allowed In The UK

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN AND TIME NEWS AGENCIES)

London’s Mayor Suggests Cancelling President Trump’s State Visit After His Criticisms on Twitter

Updated: 7:49 AM ET | Originally published: Jun 05, 2017

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has suggested that U.S. President Donald Trump should not be welcomed to the U.K. because his policies are incompatible with British values, as a planned state visit approaches. The mayor’s comments follow criticism from Trump on Twitter over Khan’s response to a terror attack Saturday that left seven people dead in the British capital.

Speaking to Britain’s Channel 4 News on Monday, Khan said the U.S. President was wrong about “many things.” According to the Guardian, he added that he doesn’t think Trump should be welcomed to the country.

“I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the President of the U.S.A. in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” he said.

President Trump criticized Khan on Sunday after the mayor told Londoners that an increased police presence on the streets was “no cause for alarm.” Trump misleadingly suggested that Khan was downplaying the act of terrorism, which saw a van crash into pedestrians on London Bridge before three men exited the vehicle and attacked several people in nearby Borough Market.

After the mayor’s office contextualized Khan’s remarks, Trump went on the offensive again, tweeting on Monday that the explanation was a “pathetic excuse.”

Read more: President Trump’s Attack on London Mayor

Prime Minister Theresa May told British tabloid The Sun on Tuesday that even though Trump was “wrong in what he said about Sadiq Khan” his official state visit to Britain will still go ahead. “The relationship with America is our deepest and most important defence and security relationship” she told the newspaper. “Having said that, I think Donald Trump is wrong in what he said about Sadiq Khan, in relation to the attack on London Bridge.”

Trump’s attack on Khan has drawn sharp criticism not in the U.K. but also from American officials. The acting U.S. Ambassador in London, Lewis Lukens, issued a statement on Twitter offering praise and support for Khan: “I commend the strong leadership of the @MayorofLondon as he leads the city forward after this heinous attack,” it read.

I commend the strong leadership of the @MayorofLondon as he leads the city forward after this heinous attack. – LLukens 3/3 https://twitter.com/MayorofLondon/status/871270734835965952 

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which represents 1,400 communities across the country, also sent Khan an unequivocal message of support.

“[Khan] has risen above this crisis of death and destruction, as mayors continue to do, to alleviate fear, to bring comfort to his people of London and to give support to the first responders who continue to protect, defend and provide emergency care to his people of London,” the statement read. “Thank you, Mayor Khan, for your leadership during this crisis.”

[Guardian]

North Korea parades military might and warns US as nuclear test fears persist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

North Korea parades military might and warns US as nuclear test fears persist

As thousands of soldiers mass at Kim Il-sung square, Pyongyang tells US to end its dangerous ‘military hysteria’

Tanks prepare to parade in Pyongyang on Saturday as part of celebrations marking the birth of founder Kim Il-sung on Saturday.
Tanks prepare to parade in Pyongyang on Saturday as part of celebrations marking the birth of founder Kim Il-sung on Saturday. Photograph: AP

North Korea has begun a vast military parade to celebrate the birth of its founding father, Kim Il-sung, and warned that it was prepared to take the “toughest” action unless the US ended its “military hysteria”, as speculation grows that the regime is preparing to conduct a nuclear test.

On a sunny morning in the capital, Pyongyang, military vehicles and tens of thousands of soldiers filled Kim Il-sung square as a band played rousing military music, the instruments falling silent for oaths of loyalty to the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

Dressed in his trademark black suit and flanked by senior military and Workers’ party officials, Kim applauded and occasionally smiled as he watched the tributes to his grandfather, who was born 105 years ago today.

But the “Day of the Sun” was clouded in uncertainty as the world waited to see if Kim Jong-un, the country’s third-generation ruler, would provoke a potential regional crisis with what would be North Korea’s sixth nuclear test in just over a decade, or a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

As the USS aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its strike group sailed towards the peninsula in a show of force, North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, citing a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, warned of “merciless” retaliation against any US provocation.

Donald Trump’s decision to send an “armada” of warships to waters off the tense peninsula, coupled with recent US strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, were proof that Washington had chosen the path of “open threat and blackmail”, KCNA said.

“Our toughest counteraction against the US and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive,” it added.

It said the Trump administration’s “serious military hysteria” has reached a “dangerous phase that can no longer be overlooked”.

It added: “Under the prevailing grave situation, the United States has to come to its senses and make a proper option for the solution of the problem.”

Choe Ryong-hae, a high-ranking party official, earlier told crowds North Korea was ready for war. “We will respond [to a US attack] with an all-out war … and nuclear attacks with nuclear strikes,” Choe said in a speech, according to Yonhap.

As the parade unfolded in Pyongyang, China’s state-run media warned that the US president was mistaken if he believed that piling military pressure on North Korea would resolve the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

The Global Times said Trump’s decision to drop the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan was clearly “a new gimmick in US military deterrence” designed to intimidate Kim Jong-un.

“North Korea must have felt the shock wave travelling all the way from Afghanistan,” the Communist party-controlled newspaper said in an editorial.

However, the Global Times, which sometimes reflects government views, said the use of such a “vicious weapon” was in fact likely to make Pyongyang even more determined to upgrade its own arsenal. “[Trump] has demonstrated a certain level of obsession and pride toward US military prowess,” it said, adding, that the US president “may go down in history as the ‘war president’”.

As North Korea’s only ally and biggest trading partner, China has come under unprecedented pressure in recent days to use its influence to persuade Kim not to risk conflict with a nuclear test or ballistic missile launch.

On Friday, China again called for talks to defuse the crisis. “We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, told reporters in Beijing.

Speaking to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, on Friday night, Wang said steps were needed to prevent “war and chaos” on the Korean peninsula.

US officials have said the policy of “strategic patience” pursued by the Obama administration has ended, after years of diplomatic pressure and international sanctions failed to slow North Korea’s progress towards developing nuclear missiles capable of striking the US mainland – a milestone some experts believe is only years away.

In echoes of the bellicose rhetoric that reverberated around the Korean peninsula during its last major crisis in the spring of 2013, KCNA said North Korea would respond in kind to any perceived US military provocation.

Referring to the country by its official title, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it warned: “The army and people of the DPRK will as ever courageously counter those who encroach upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and will always mercilessly ravage all provocative options of the US with Korean-style toughest counteraction.”