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Top Russian diplomat to visit N. Korea!

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MOSCOW: Russia said its foreign minister was planning a trip to North Korea after a media outlet said Wednesday Sergei Lavrov could visit the reclusive state next week.

“The visit of the head of the Russian foreign ministry to North Korea is in the works,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told AFP.

She said concrete dates would be announced separately, declining to comment further. Earlier on Wednesday, business media outlet RBC reported that Lavrov would visit North Korea on May 31, citing the Russian foreign ministry’s press department.

Last month North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho held rare talks with Lavrov in Moscow as Pyongyang moves to improve strained ties with global powers.

“Russia is as inclined as ever to develop good neighborly relations with North Korea,” Lavrov said at the time. North Korea prepares this week to demolish a nuclear test site, which has been the staging ground for all six of the North’s nuclear tests.

The North has portrayed the move as a goodwill gesture ahead of a planned June 12 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Relevant Piece Published Earlier: VIENNA: The head of the UN’s nuclear test ban watchdog said today that it stands ready to send a team to North Korea to verify the closure of the country’s nuclear test site. Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), said his body had “the required expertise, unique verification technology, and the much needed international credibility to confirm and monitor the closure of the Punggye-ri nuclear-weapon test site”.North Korea announced last week that it would destroy the site in a ceremony scheduled between May 23-25. While the CTBTO was not in a position to do any meaningful work on or before that date, it could do so before the summit scheduled for June 12 between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.“If before the summit we are called to do any in-field measurement… this is something that we can do,” Zerbo said. “A team for deployment could be put together in around a week,” he added. The fact that North Korea had not signed the CTBT “is not an impediment to make our technology available for the international community,” he added. However, Zerbo confirmed that no request for help with verification had yet been received from North Korea or with any other party to a possible agreement. A relevant piece published earlier: Satellite snaps show N. Korea is dismantling its nuclear sites ahead of a historic summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, a US monitor said today. In a move welcomed by Washington and Seoul, North Korea said at the weekend it will “completely” destroy the Punggye-ri test site, in a ceremony scheduled between May 23-25 in front of invited foreign media. But no observers from international atomic monitoring agencies have been invited, raising concerns over the openness of the process. Punggye-ri, in the northeast of the country, has been the site of all six of the North’s nuclear tests, the latest and by far the most powerful in September last year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb. North Korea pledged to close the testing ground after Kim last month declared the country’s nuclear force complete and said it had no further need for the complex.The respected 38 North website said Tuesday that satellite images dated May 7 showed “the first definitive evidence that dismantlement of the test site was already well underway”.Several key operational buildings, as well as smaller sheds, had been razed and rails connecting the tunnels to their waste piles were removed, the monitoring group said. Excavation of a new tunnel has also been halted since late March, it added.

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Asia

India divertig attention from Spy’s case?

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda has termed the Indian threat to stop the flow of water from eastern rivers to Pakistan a “failed attempt”, just like the Pulwama incident, to divert attention from its failure in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case in International Court of Justice (ICJ).
In his reaction over India’s threat to stop Pakistan’s water, he said India could not blame Pakistan for its failure in the International Court of Justice to prove spy Kulbhushan innocent. As per Indus Water Treaty, India could not stop Pakistan’s water, he added, says a press statement here on Friday.
Describing the threat hilarious and void, he said the Indian government was preparing the ground to seek public support in next election by hurling allegation against Pakistan. “India must keep it in mind that it is a New Pakistan,” Vawda said adding that valiant Armed Forces of Pakistan would give a befitting response if India launched any misadventure. He said India would get nothing from its war hysteria except embarrassment among the comity of the nations.

 

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Europe

Brexit: 9th MP leaves Labour in a week!

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Hitachi freezes British nuclear project

LONDON: The Labour party contingency of Britain’s parliament lost more blood Friday, with a ninth MP leaving Labour in less than a week, blasting alleged anti-Semitism in the party leadership.
Ian Austin, representing Dudley North in the West Midlands, chose the local paper Express and Star to make his announcement, in a guest op-ed slamming the party as “broken.” Citing the alleged anti-Semitism in the party, Austin said he was “appalled at the offense and distress [leader] Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have caused to Jewish people.”
“I always tell them the truth and I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister,” he said. “It is terrible that a culture of extremism, antisemitism, and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics,” he wrote. He said that he had not spoken to the new Independent Group, now made up of eight Labour MPs and three former Conservative MPs.
“The hard left is now in charge of the party, they’re going to get rid of lots of decent mainstream MPs and I just can’t see how it can return to the mainstream party that won elections and changed the country for the better,” Austin said. He added, “I think the Labour party is broken and clearly things have to change but that’s not what today is about, and I’ve not talked to them about that.”
A Labour spokesman said the party “regrets” Austin quitting, adding, “He was elected as a Labour MP and so the democratic thing is to resign his seat and let the people of Dudley decide who should represent them.” Earlier this week, amid the continuing chaos over Brexit, a group of seven MPs resigned from Labour and said they would stay in parliament as independent lawmakers, followed soon thereafter by an eighth. Three Conservative MPs also resigned their party this week to join the Independent Group.

 

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Asia

China, Laos to promote people-to-people ties

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VIENTIANE: A visiting Chinese delegation has reached agreements with its Lao counterpart to promote the people-to-people exchanges during talks.
At the invitation of the Lao Committee for Peace and Solidarity, Gao Yunlong, vice chairman of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, visited Laos from Wednesday to Friday.
During his visit, Gao held working-level talks with Somphan Phengkhammy, the deputy president of Lao National Assembly and president of the Lao Committee for Peace and Solidarity. Both sides agreed to treasure traditional friendship, to promote people-to-people communication and jointly build a community of shared future.
Gao also met the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) politburo member and National Assembly President Pany Yathotou, LPRP politburo member and President of Lao Front for National Development Saysomphone Phomvihane, and Sounthone Xayachack, head of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) Central Committee’s Commission for external relations.

 

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