Nations at North Korea meeting commit to considering more sanctions

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland and Secretary of State of the United States, Rex Tillerson address a news conference following a meeting on the Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Nations at North Korea meeting commit to considering more sanctions

VANCOUVER: A 20-nation meeting on North Korea agreed on Tuesday to consider imposing unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang that go beyond those required by UN Security Council resolutions, the United States and Canada said in a joint statement.
The meeting, to discuss North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, also agreed to support dialogue between the two Koreas “in hopes that it leads to sustained easing of tensions,” the statement added.
The United States and Canada co-hosted the day-long meeting in Vancouver to discuss ways of forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear arms.
The statement said participants “agree to consider and take steps to impose unilateral sanctions and further diplomatic actions that go beyond those required by UN Security Council resolutions.” It gave no details.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has refused to give up development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the United States in spite of increasingly severe UN sanctions, raising fears of a new war on the Korean peninsula.
The Vancouver meeting also committed to ensuring that sanctions already in place were fully implemented.
Earlier on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said all countries needed to work together to improve interdiction of ships attempting to skirt the sanctions and said there must be “new consequences” for North Korea “whenever new aggression occurs.”

North and South Korea held formal talks for the first time in two years this month and Pyongyang said it would send athletes to the Olympics.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said in Vancouver she hoped the dialogue would continue well beyond the Olympics, but stressed that existing sanctions must be applied more rigorously.
“These two tools — tough sanctions and pressure on the one hand, and the offer of a different, brighter future on the other — (have) worked hand in hand,” she said.


Erdogan, Merkel to meet amid tensions, protests

Updated 13 min 39 sec ago
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Erdogan, Merkel to meet amid tensions, protests

  • It will be Erdogan’s first official visit to Germany since becoming president in 2014
  • Some 10,000 people are expected to rally under the motto “Erdogan Not Welcome” in Berlin on Friday alone

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pay a state visit to Germany this week as the two countries seek to rebuild ties after a series of sharp spats but the controversial trip is likely to be overshadowed by protests.
It will be Erdogan’s first official visit to Germany since becoming president in 2014, and follows a prolonged bout of tensions sparked by Berlin’s criticism of his crackdown on opponents in the wake of a failed 2016 coup.
“The main goal of this visit is to completely leave behind this period (of tensions),” Erdogan told Turkish media.
The Turkish leader will land in Berlin Thursday and hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel over the following two days.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will welcome him with military honors and a state dinner at Bellevue Palace on Friday — which several opposition politicians have vowed to boycott. Merkel too will be notably absent.
On Saturday, Erdogan will travel to Cologne to open one of Europe’s largest mosques, commissioned by the Turkish-controlled Ditib organization.
Commentators have been quick to point out that Erdogan’s push for a fresh start comes as the Turkish economy is struggling and relations with the United States have worsened.
Thousands of Erdogan critics have vowed to take to the streets across Germany to protest everything from Turkey’s record on human rights and press freedom to its offensive against Kurdish militia in Syria.
Some 10,000 people are expected to rally under the motto “Erdogan Not Welcome” in Berlin on Friday alone.
With no shortage of political and economic issues hanging over the visit, the shadow of football also looms large.
Turkey and Germany are locked in a bitter race to host the Euro 2024 tournament, with the winner to be announced the day Erdogan arrives.
Germany’s bid has been clouded by Turkish-origin player Mesut Ozil’s resignation from the national team over perceived racism — a move praised by Erdogan.
Relations between the two NATO countries plummeted after Turkish authorities arrested tens of thousands of people in a mass purge over the attempted putsch against Erdogan, including some who were also German nationals.
But a gradual rapprochement began after German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel was freed earlier this year, while journalist Mesale Tolu was allowed to return to Germany last month. Both still face terror-related charges in Turkey.
Merkel, whose country is home to a three-million-strong Turkish community, has repeatedly stressed the importance of good relations with Ankara, a partner she relies on to help stem the flow of migrants arriving on European shores.
But Germany’s best-selling Bild newspaper said it was too soon to roll out the red carpet for Erdogan, who just 18 months ago accused Berlin of “Nazi practices” for blocking rallies supporting him ahead of a referendum that gave him sweeping new powers.
“Now that Turkey is grappling with a currency crisis and its economy has hit rock-bottom, Erdogan wants to be our friend again,” it said in an editorial.
“This is too much pomp and ceremony for Erdogan. We’re not there yet.”
Erdogan said he would use the visit to press Germany for “more efficiency” in the fight against “terrorist groups” like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the movement of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup.
Other topics on the agenda will likely be Turkey’s stalled EU membership bid and its role in the conflict in Syria.
To help smooth over the diplomatic reset, Erdogan could dangle the promise of a major project to modernize Turkey’s rail infrastructure.
Der Spiegel weekly reported that German giant Siemens was in talks to lead the potential 35-billion-euro deal ($40 billion), but it was unclear whether Berlin would help finance it.
In a sign of the contentious nature of his visit, Erdogan is not scheduled to make any big public speeches in Germany.
Die Welt reporter Yucel, who spent over a year behind Turkish bars, condemned Berlin for “inviting a criminal to a banquet.”
“The German government is betraying all those in Turkey who long for a free, democratic and secular society,” he said.