New Zealand PM denies Trump mistook her for Trudeau’s wife

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talk during the APEC-ASEAN dialogue, on the sidelines of the APEC summit, in Danang, Vietnam, in this November 10, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 November 2017
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New Zealand PM denies Trump mistook her for Trudeau’s wife

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday played down suggestions US President Donald Trump confused her with Canadian leader Justin Trudeau’s wife at a summit in Asia last week.
Trudeau was supposedly making the introductions as Ardern attended her first major forum since taking office last month when Trump mixed-up the 37-year-old with the Canadian leader’s partner Sophie.
It was reportedly several minutes before he realized his mistake at the East Asia Summit in Manila.
However, Ardern said details of the encounter had become muddled in the retelling and there was actually no confusion on Trump’s part.
She said “a third party” at the meeting of world leaders — who she refused to name — incorrectly thought Trump had failed to identify her and she later told the anecdote to friends back in New Zealand.
A version leaked publicly that was unflattering to Trump and the rookie prime minister said she would now have to be more careful when telling tales of her encounters in the corridors of power.
“It was a bit of a funny yarn, something I don’t want to cause a diplomatic incident over... I think I should never have recounted the story,” she told TVNZ.
It comes after Ardern recalled another Trump anecdote from the Manila summit, when she was waiting to make her entrance at the event’s gala dinner.
“Trump in jest patted the person next to him on the shoulder, pointed at me and said, ‘This lady caused a lot of upset in her country’, talking about the election,” she told newsroom.co.nz.
“I said, ‘Well, you know, only maybe 40 percent’, then he said it again and I said, ‘You know’, laughing, ‘no-one marched when I was elected’.”
Large protests followed Trump’s election last year but Ardern said the American leader took her riposte in good humor.
“He laughed and it was only afterwards that I reflect that it could have been taken in a very particular way — he did not seem offended,” she said.


Six dead in fire at Rohingya camp in Myanmar

Updated 19 October 2018
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Six dead in fire at Rohingya camp in Myanmar

  • The UN Human Rights Council has accused top Myanmar generals of genocide over the bloody campaign, allegations the country strongly denies.
  • Myanmar has vowed to close nearly 20 of the camps around Sittwe in the coming months.

YANGON, Myanmar: Six Rohingya were killed early Friday after a blaze tore through an overcrowded camp for the persecuted minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the local fire service said.
Global attention has focused on the 720,000 Rohingya Muslims forced from the state’s north into Bangladesh last year by a brutal military crackdown.
The UN Human Rights Council has accused top Myanmar generals of genocide over the bloody campaign, allegations the country strongly denies.
But less visible are the 129,000 Rohingya confined to squalid camps further south near the capital Sittwe following an earlier bout of violence in 2012.
Hundreds were killed that year in riots between Rakhine Buddhists and the stateless minority, who were corralled into destitute camps away from their former neighbors.
The conflagration in Ohndaw Chay camp, which houses some 4,000 Rohingya and lies 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Sittwe, started just before midnight and lasted several hours, fire department official Han Soe told AFP.
“Six people, one man and five women were killed,” he said, adding that 15 communal longhouses were also destroyed in the blaze thought to have been started in a kitchen accident.
“We were able to bring the fire under control about 1:10 am this morning and had put it out completely by around 3 am,” he said.
A total of 822 people were left without shelter, local media reported.
Conditions in the camps are dire and Rohingya trapped there have virtually no access to health care, education and work, relying on food handouts from aid agencies to survive.
Access into the camps is also tightly controlled, effectively cutting their inhabitants off from the outside world and leaving their plight largely forgotten.
Fires in the camps are common because of “severe” overcrowding, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Many camp residents have built makeshift extensions to their shelters to create more space for their families. So when a fire breaks out, it is more likely to spread quickly,” said OCHA spokesman Pierre Peron.
Hla Win, a Rohingya man from a nearby camp, told AFP that fire trucks were slow to arrive along the dilapidated roads from Sittwe and the lack of water also hampered efforts to extinguish the blaze.
“We have no ponds near the camps,” he said. “That’s why the fire destroyed so much.”
Myanmar has vowed to close nearly 20 of the camps around Sittwe in the coming months.
Rights groups say the move will achieve little without ending movement restrictions or granting Rohingya a pathway to citizenship.