UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

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Photo showing the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
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Photo showing police at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
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Photo showing Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
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Photo showing UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
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Photo showing US's UN permanent representative at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
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Photo showing US's UN permanent representative Nikki Haley at the farmhouse where UN Security Council Members hold a retreat to find a way to break the deadlock on Syria, Backakra outside Ystad, southern Sweden on April 21, 2018. (UN Photo)
Updated 21 April 2018
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UN Security Council meets over Syria in remote Swedish farmhouse

BACKARA- SWEDEN: The UN Security Council met in a secluded farmhouse on the southern tip of Sweden on Saturday in a bid to overcome deep divisions over how to end the war in Syria.
In a first for the Council, which normally holds its annual brainstorming session in upstate New York, the 15 ambassadors and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres were this year invited to hold an informal meeting in Backakra by Sweden, a non-permanent member of the body.
The United Nations’ special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is expected on Sunday.
The farmhouse is the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations’ second secretary-general who died in a plane crash in Africa in 1961.
Situated in the heart of a nature reserve, just a stone’s throw from the Baltic Sea, the farmhouse consists of four buildings around a courtyard and has been completely renovated in recent years.
The southern wing serves as the summer residence for the Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Literature Prize.
With both New York and Damascus thousands of kilometers away, the Council is exploring “the means to strengthen and make more effective United Nations peacekeeping missions,” the Swedish government said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom welcomed the decision to hold the meeting in Sweden, “where there is a long tradition of peaceful conflict prevention and resolution.”
But as she arrived in Backakra on Saturday morning she warned against being too hopeful the Syrian issue would be resolved over the weekend.
“Hopefully there will be some new ideas on the table and I think it’ll be on those tracks: the humanitarian situation, the chemical weapons,” she said.
But “not even the beautiful settings like these can solve all the problems,” the minister added.
The country’s deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau said the idea was to foster dialogue and “relaunch momentum” with “humility and patience,” a week after the air strikes by France, Britain and the United States against the Syrian regime.
“It’s important for the council’s credibility,” Skau told reporters in New York.
While the war in Syria is not the only topic of the deliberations, it is high up on the agenda because it was an issue that divided council members deeply in recent months.
Skau said Backakra was a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.


‘Nut rage’ Korean Air heiress questioned for illegal maids

Updated 8 min 16 sec ago
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‘Nut rage’ Korean Air heiress questioned for illegal maids

SEOUL: A Korean Air heiress known for a “nut rage” tantrum that sparked national uproar was summoned for questioning Thursday for illegally hiring immigrants to work as maids, the latest scandal to engulf her billionaire family.
Cho Hyun-ah kept her head bowed as she reported to immigration authorities in Seoul on Thursday.
“I’m sorry to cause trouble,” she said in a quiet voice before entering the office.
She faces allegations that she illegally hired some 10 Filipinos to work as housemaids in the family home by disguising them as company trainees to obtain visas.
It is against the law in South Korea to hire foreigners as domestic helpers.
A series of scandals have left Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho and his family facing mounting scrutiny over a spate of alleged wrongdoings that have riled the public and even sparked protests by the firm’s employees.
The family first shot to international infamy in 2014 when Cho Hyun-ah forced two Korean Air flight attendants to kneel and beg for forgiveness after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a bowl.
She ordered the Seoul-bound flight back to the gate so one of them could be ejected in an incident quickly dubbed “nut rage” that many South Koreans felt typified the way ultra-wealthy families often behave.
She was sentenced to a year in prison by a lower court. But after serving five months in jail she was was freed when the appeals court cleared her of hampering an air route — the most serious charge — as the aircraft was still on the ground.
Her younger sister Cho Hyun-min recently won unflattering headlines with her own tantrum when she allegedly splashed fruit juice over a business associate in a fit of rage.
Prosecutors stopped short of bringing charges against her after the victim reconciled with her.
But the incident set off a flurry of new allegations about the family’s other alleged wrongdoings.
Among the allegations authorities are now investigating include smuggling of furniture and food, tax evasion, hiring of illegals and verbal abuse and assaults against employees.
Korean Air workers launched an online chat room detailing various grievances they had with the family.
On Friday some employees will hold their fourth weekly rally calling for Cho family to take a back seat in the company.
Police have also summoned the chairman Cho’s wife Lee Myung-hee for questioning on Monday after more than ten people claimed they had been physically or verbally assaulted by her.
Lee is also suspected of involvement in the illegal hiring of foreign maids and will be questioned in this case as well, the immigration office said.