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.


Pakistan Cabinet reverses Sharif prison trial decision

Updated 18 July 2018
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Pakistan Cabinet reverses Sharif prison trial decision

  • The government decided to hold open trial of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law, who were awarded jail terms by accountability court on July 6 in Avenfield properties corruption case
  • The former ruling family faces two more corruption cases against them in Al-Azizia Steel Mill and Flagship Investment references pending verdict

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s caretaker federal Cabinet on Wednesday reversed a decision to hold the trial of convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and political heir-apparent Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar Awan in prison.
The cabinet meeting was chaired by interim Prime Minster Nasirul Mulk.
Sharif is also facing a verdict in the Al Azizia and Flagship Investment corruption cases.
The former premier, his daughter and son-in-law were convicted in the Avenfield case earlier this month and sentenced to a 10, seven and one-year prison term, respectively.
The accountability court also fined the three-times former prime minister £8 million and his daughter £2 million.
The three are being held at the Central Jail Rawalpindi, known as Adiala, a notorious maximum-security prison. Following their complaints about the “abysmal” condition of their holding cells, better facilities were provided.
A member of Sharif’s defense counsel, led by Khawaja Harris, said the Cabinet had taken the decision “under pressure” following accusations of harassment, mistreatment and inadequate jail facilities.
Senior Advocate Sharafat Ali, assisting Sharif’s legal team, told Arab News: “The notification to conduct a jail trial of Nawaz Sharif who appeared over 100 times in the accountability court, was a hasty decision of the interim government.
“Prison trials are held due to high security, often of those involved in terrorist activity. To withdraw from its previous order is a step to do right to a wrong already done.”
The three prisoners filed two petitions in the Islamabad High Court hoping to overturn the verdict and transfer the remaining two corruption cases to another accountability court, but the higher forum on Tuesday adjourned the hearing till after the July 25 general elections.