UN welcomes reopening of North Korea hotline with the South

People watch a TV screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year's speech, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. (AP)
Updated 03 January 2018
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UN welcomes reopening of North Korea hotline with the South

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the reopening of a hotline between North and South Korea, as he voiced hope for more diplomatic initiatives to end the peninsula’s nuclear standoff.
North and South Korea had earlier on Wednesday reopened a communication channel, which had been closed since 2016. It followed an offer from North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to send a team to next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“It is always a positive development to have a dialogue between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea,” said UN spokesman Farhan Haq. Guterres “welcomes the reopening of the inter-Korean communication channel,” he added.
UN Security Council resolutions call for the de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula and “we hope that enhanced diplomatic initiatives will help to achieve that goal,” said Haq.
South Korea has offered to hold talks with the North on January 9 to discuss “matters of mutual interest” including the North’s Olympic participation.
Guterres’ support for inter-Korean dialogue stood in contrast to remarks from US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who on Tuesday dismissed the overtures between Pyongyang and Seoul as a “Band-Aid.”
The United States, backed by Japan, is pushing for sanctions and total isolation of Kim’s regime in response to a series of missile launches and nuclear tests.
Russia, and North Korea’s sole major ally China, have repeatedly called for talks to de-escalate tensions, but the United States has been adamant that Pyongyang must first freeze its military programs.
Haley warned on Tuesday that if Pyongyang carries out another missile test, it would face the likelihood of even more sanctions.
The Security Council adopted a new raft of sanctions on December 22 to restrict oil supplies to North Korea — the third set of measures imposed on Pyongyang in a year.


Prince Charles visits UK site of nerve agent attack

Updated 8 min 48 sec ago
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Prince Charles visits UK site of nerve agent attack

  • Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited Salisbury on Friday to support the city as it tries to recover from the impact of this year’s poison attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter.
  • Visitor numbers have fallen since Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a bench in March.

SALISBURY: Prince Charles and his wife Camilla visited Salisbury on Friday to support the city as it tries to recover from the impact of this year’s poison attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter.
They visited businesses and met local residents before attending a reception for those most closely involved in trying to restore the city’s tourist trade.
Visitor numbers have fallen since Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a bench in March.
They had been poisoned with a Cold War era nerve agent for which the government blamed Russia, plunging bilateral relations to a new low, although the Kremlin denied any involvement.
Charles and Camilla also held a private meeting with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey who fell ill after coming into contact with the Novichok nerve agent after trying to help the Skripals.
For weeks, the predominant images coming from this elegant southern city were not those of England’s tallest cathedral spire but of police roadblocks and cordoned-off streets as investigators in hazchem suits swept the area.
Re-stimulating tourism in Salisbury has been a priority after visitor numbers fell some 20 percent. Nine businesses folded as a result of the incident, on top of a reduced footfall of up to 80 percent in the immediate vicinity of the poisoning.
Sergei Skripal, 66, was part of a spy swap between Russia and Britain in 2010 and had since made Salisbury his home. He was released from hospital last month after spending weeks in an induced coma.
Yulia Skripal, 33, left hospital in April and spoke last month to Reuters, outlining her desire to return to Russia in the future despite the poisoning.
“My life has been turned upside down,” she said.