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
0

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.


Flashpoint Indian temple closes without admitting women

Updated 23 October 2018
0

Flashpoint Indian temple closes without admitting women

  • Mobs of Hindu hard-liners prevented women aged 10 to 50 from getting in to the Sabarimala temple complex when it opened last Wednesday for the first time
  • Sabarimala has become a flashpoint in a battle over gender equality, pitting religious traditionalists against progressive voices

NEW DELHI: The latest window for worship at a flashpoint Indian shrine has closed without a single female devotee of menstruating age being admitted, despite a court order overturning a ban on their presence in the temple.
Mobs of Hindu hard-liners prevented women aged 10 to 50 from getting in to the Sabarimala temple complex when it opened last Wednesday for the first time since the Supreme Court reversed a ban on women of menstruating age from worshipping at the temple.
The shrine in southern Kerala state is only open on a handful of auspicious days every year, and a number of Hindu women between these ages had flocked there in the wake of the court order.
But the ruling had enraged traditionalists, including supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Protesters, including women and children, massed at the base of the shrine when it opened last week, threatening women trying to reach it.
Some smashed car windows and clashed with police.
Armed police escorted some devotees but none managed to make it to the hilltop temple over the five-day worship period before it closed late Monday. It will not reopen until November.
Sabarimala has become a flashpoint in a battle over gender equality, pitting religious traditionalists against progressive voices pushing for a more liberal Hinduism.
Women are permitted to enter most Hindu temples but are still barred by some.
Those of menstruating age — between 10 and 50 years — were denied entry to Sabarimala for decades, reflecting an old but still prevalent view in some parts that connects periods with impurity.
But women have been intensifying campaigns in recent years to be allowed to enter temples and other religious sites.
Two years ago, activists successfully campaigned to end a ban on women entering the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra state.
Women were also allowed to enter Mumbai’s Hajji Ali Dargah mausoleum, a Muslim place of worship, after the Supreme Court scrapped a ban in 2016.