Japan expands sanctions aimed at North Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said North Korea is feeling the pain from increasing international sanctions. (AFP)
Updated 15 December 2017
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Japan expands sanctions aimed at North Korea

TOKYO: Japan said Friday it had added 19 more entities to its list of organizations and individuals targeted by asset-freeze sanctions on North Korea.
The sanctions list now comprises 103 entities and 108 individuals in total, including seven Chinese entities, five Chinese individuals, one Singaporean entity and two Namibian entities, it said.
They include organizations involved in financial services, coal and minerals trading, transportation and sending North Korean laborers abroad, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Japan has already imposed strict sanctions on North Korea, including a blanket ban on trade and port calls.
Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said: “North Korea launched an ICBM ballistic missile that landed in our exclusive economic zone and continues to repeat provocative commentaries.
“In light of this, as we host a ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council on December 15, we have decided on the asset freeze in order to further increase pressure” on the reclusive state, Suga said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in an address to a group of news media executives in Tokyo, said North Korea is feeling the pain from increasing international sanctions, including the reduction of oil-product imports under UN sanctions.
“The sanctions must be having an impact,” Abe said.
“It is possible that we will see further provocations. But what’s important is that we do not bow to these threats. The international community must continue to coordinate and apply pressure until North Korea changes its policies and seeks negotiations,” Abe said.


Taliban rejects pleas by Afghan elders for a cease-fire extension

Updated 28 min 14 sec ago
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Taliban rejects pleas by Afghan elders for a cease-fire extension

  • Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed the peace “slogans”
  • The success of such local initiatives is mixed and may stand little chance as military operations pick up

KABUL: The Taliban on Monday rejected pleas by Afghan elders and activists for an extension of this month’s cease-fire and said they amounted to a call for surrender to foreign forces.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed the peace “slogans” and urged civil society activists and others not to join movements he said played into the hands of US and international forces the Taliban wants to force from the country.
“They are not speaking about the occupation or the withdrawal of foreigners. Their objective is that we lay down our weapons and accept the regime imposed by the invaders,” he said in a statement.
A truce over the three day Eid Al-Fitr festival this month, during which unarmed Taliban fighters mingled with soldiers and civilians in the capital Kabul and other cities has given fresh impetus to the calls for peace, although many also dismiss the cease-fire as a Taliban trick.
A small group of peace marchers who came to Kabul on foot from the southern province of Helmand this month have also gained prominence, with pleas to all sides to end a conflict which has now lasted for 40 years.
“Tribal elders may not be able to bring about peace and create a cease-fire to the whole country but they can for their own districts and they will,” said Dawlat Wazir, an elder in Jani Khil district in the eastern province of Paktia.
In Jani Khil, elders held a meeting that drew hundreds of people at the weekend, calling on the government and Taliban forces to refrain from fighting in their area.
“We are so fed up with operations by government forces in our areas that trigger fighting for days,” said Malek Sakhto, one of the elders behind the meeting. “We’re pleading with the government and the Taliban to agree on a cease-fire and stop killing each other and civilians.”
The success of such local initiatives is mixed and may stand little chance as military operations pick up.
President Ashraf Ghani ordered government forces to stop offensive operations against the Taliban for another 10 days after the end of the cease-fire but there has since been fierce fighting in several areas.
In Logar, to the south of the capital Kabul, local elders and religious scholars have been trying to arrange a cease-fire in Azra district, according to Abdul Wali, a member of the Logar provincial council.
He said an informal accord had been reached but local people were still waiting for an official announcement from the Taliban shadow governor for Logar, Muallah Ismail Akhondzada.
In Kunar province, on the border with Pakistan, another group of walkers is making its way to Kabul, a statement from the governor’s office said.