Chinese leader calls for ‘smooth’ Kim-Trump talks

A South Korean soldier walks past a television screen showing pictures of US President Donald Trump (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul on March 9, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 March 2018
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Chinese leader calls for ‘smooth’ Kim-Trump talks

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping hopes “smooth” talks between North Korea’s leader and the presidents of the United States and South Korea can produce progress toward Pyongyang’s denuclearization, according to state media.
Xi made the remarks during a meeting Monday with South Korea’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, who was in Beijing to brief Chinese leaders about his meetings with Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump last week.
Kim has agreed to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in late April in the Demilitarized Zone, while Trump and the North Korean leader could meet by the end of May.
“We expect a smooth DPRK-ROK summit and DPRK-US dialogue,” Xi said, using the acronyms for North Korea and South Korea, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Xi voiced hope that the talks will lead to “substantial progress” in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and toward the normalization of relations between the countries involved.
The peninsula faces “an important opportunity for easing tension” and all sides should be “patient and cautious,” the Chinese leader said.
Xi said China is willing to work with the international community to promote Beijing’s “dual-track approach” along with “helpful proposals from all sides.”
China has called for a dual framework of committing to denuclearization while establishing a peace mechanism. It has also proposed a “suspension-for-suspension” plan in which the United States, South Korea and Japan freeze military drills in return for North Korea halting its nuclear and missile tests.
“As long as all parties can focus on the fundamental goal of denuclearization, peace and stability, the Korean peninsula will finally usher in the spring, when ice will thaw and flowers will bloom,” Xi said.
For his part, Chung thanked Xi for his “big role” in the diplomatic process that led to the “very positive changes.”
Beijing has played a key role in implementing UN sanctions on the North, which are believed to have put immense pressure on the country’s fragile economy.
China is North Korea’s only diplomatic ally and its most important trade partner.
Still, some in China are afraid the country, which hosted failed six-nation talks on the nuclear issue a decade ago, could be cut out of negotiations on denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
While Chung briefed Xi, South Korea sent the head of its National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, to Japan to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe, a hawk on North Korea who also has tense relations with the South’s Moon, promised Tuesday to cooperate with Seoul as it embarks on the bilateral summit talks.
He reiterated that Japan also felt passionate about resolving the issue of the abductions of its citizens by Pyongyang.
North Korean agents kidnapped a number of ordinary Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, in order to train its spies in the Japanese language and culture.
“With Japan, South Korea and the United States closely cooperating, I wish to put all my strength toward resolution of the nuclear issue, the missile issue and the abduction issue,” Abe said.


Modi’s party abandons Kashmir alliance

Updated 10 min 14 sec ago
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Modi’s party abandons Kashmir alliance

  • Mufti said that her party would continue to seek dialogue and reconciliation in the state
  • A divide between the partners was visible even last month when New Delhi announced the cease-fire

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quit the ruling coalition in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, blaming its regional partner for a rise in militancy and growing security concerns.
Shortly after the BJP withdrew support from the coalition it formed in early 2015, Mehbooba Mufti, head of its alliance partner the People's Democratic Party (PDP), resigned as the state’s chief minister.
The state will now be ruled by the governor until elections take place.
BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav said on Tuesday that continuing in government had become “untenable.”
“The security scenario has deteriorated causing serious concern about the protection of basic fundamental rights of life and free speech,” he said. “There is grave concern over the deteriorating security situation in the state.”
Kashmir has been at the heart of a dispute between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan over territorial rights. In past months there have been several outbreaks of violence. More than 130 people have been killed in the state this year and at least 120 men have joined extrremist groups.
The BJP move came a day after New Delhi ended a cease-fire against militants for Ramadan.
Last week, extremists shot and killed the editor of a local Kashmiri newspaper and abducted and killed a Kashmiri soldier on his way home to celebrate Eid.
Experts say a political split has been on the cards.
“For the BJP it had become impossible to continue,” said Happymon Jacob, associate professor of disarmament studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “Ideologically, the two are completely different parties.”
By aligning with PDP — viewed by many as a soft separatist party because it supports talks with Pakistan — the BJP lost face with its Hindu right-wing base, he said.
“But the biggest loser is the PDP. Mufti has no face left, no political mileage, and she will have no stakes in Jammu and Kashmir whenever fresh elections take place.”
The BJP, on the other hand, has now strengthened its rule in the state since the governor does what New Delhi tells him, Jacob said. That includes appointing advisers suggested by the BJP to act as de-facto ministers until a new government is formed.
“They are the victors here,” said Jacob.
Mufti said that her party would continue to seek dialogue and reconciliation in the state.
“We had always said muscular security policy will not work in Jammu and Kashmir. The state can’t be treated as enemy territory. Reconciliation is the key,” she told The Indian Express.
The BJP-PDP alliance, the report quoted her saying, was not for power but to get confidence-building measures put in place.
A divide between the partners was visible even last month when New Delhi announced the cease-fire. At the time, BJP’s state unit said the truce would “demoralize security forces.”