Pompeo, in N.Korea, to return with detained Americans — S.Korean official

In this photo released by the US Government on April 26, 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (R) shakes hands with the former CIA Director, now US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang over the 2018 Easter weekend. (US Government via AFP)
Updated 09 May 2018
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Pompeo, in N.Korea, to return with detained Americans — S.Korean official

  • Pompeo is expected to return with three Americans held in North Korea
  • Pompeo arrived in North Korean capital Pyongyang on Wednesday to prepare for the summit

SEOUL: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to return from North Korea with three American detainees, as well as details of an upcoming summit between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, a South Korean official said on Wednesday.
Pompeo arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday from Japan and headed to the Koryo Hotel in the North Korean capital for meetings, a US media pool report said.
Trump earlier broke the news of Pompeo’s second visit to North Korea in less than six weeks and said the two countries had agreed on a date and location for the summit, although he stopped short of providing details.
An official at South Korea’s presidential Blue House said Pompeo was expected to finalize the date of the summit and secure the release of the three American detainees.
While Trump said it would be a “great thing” if the American detainees were freed, Pompeo told reporters en route to Pyongyang he had not received such a commitment but hoped North Korea would “do the right thing.”
“We’ll talk about it again today,” he said. “I think it’d be a great gesture if they would choose to do so.”
The pending US-North Korea summit has sparked a flurry of diplomacy, with Japan, South Korea and China holding a high-level meeting on Wednesday.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said concerned parties should seize the opportunity to promote denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who attended the meeting along with South Korean President Moon Jae-In, said his nation would normalize ties with North Korea if the nuclear and missile issues, along with that of the abduction of Japanese citizens, were solved comprehensively.
“We must take the recent momentum toward denuclearization on the Korean peninsula and toward peace and security in Northeast Asia, and, cooperating even further with international society, make sure this is linked to concrete action by North Korea,” Abe told a news conference after the meeting.
North Korea has admitted to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens decades ago to train spies. Five have returned to Japan.

TEACHERS, MISSIONARY HELD
The three US detainees still being held are Korean-American missionary Kim Dong-chul; Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim, who spent a month teaching at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) before he was arrested in 2017; and Kim Hak-song, who also taught at PUST.
Until now, the only American released by North Korea during Trump’s presidency has been Otto Warmbier, a 22— year-old university student who returned to the United States in a coma last summer after 17 months of captivity and died days later.
Warmbier’s death escalated US-North Korea tensions, already running high at the time over Pyongyang’s stepped-up missile tests.
The groundwork for the potential release of the three remaining American detainees was laid two months ago when North Korea’s foreign minister traveled to Sweden and proposed the idea, CNN reported earlier, citing an unidentified source.
Pompeo’s visit comes a day after Kim Jong Un made his second trip to China in less than two months, meeting President Xi Jinping and discussing the ongoing international talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
During the visit, announced only after it was over, Kim told Xi he hoped relevant parties would take “phased” and “synchronized” measures to realize denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, according to Chinese state media.
Separately, Trump and Xi discussed developments on the Korean peninsula and Kim’s visit to China during a phone call on Tuesday morning, the White House said.


New Quebec law stresses migrants’ skills, thousands must reapply

Updated 17 June 2019
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New Quebec law stresses migrants’ skills, thousands must reapply

  • The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift his country’s visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers
  • The law will attempt to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec

MONTREAL: The Quebec provincial legislature on Sunday approved a controversial immigration bill that will replace a first-come, first-served standard for accepting migrants with one tied to an applicants’ skills.
The law is similar to a proposed plan from US President Donald Trump that would shift his country’s visa system from family-based immigration toward bringing in more skilled workers.
The law will attempt to more closely match the skills offered by would-be immigrants with the needs of the labor market in Quebec, Canada’s second most-populous province.
Under the new law, some 18,000 applications now on file will be shredded, affecting as many as 50,000 people, many of whom already live in the province.
The 18,000 existing applicants will have to restart the immigration process.
The provincial government promised to expedite processing of their new applications, saying qualified workers would have answers within six months rather than the current 36 months.
The 62-to-42 vote on the bill took place around 4 am (0800 GMT) at the end of a marathon session convened by the governing center-right Coalition Avenir Quebec, immigration minister Simon Jolin-Barrette announced on Twitter.
“We are modifying the immigration system in the public interest because we have to ensure we have a system which meets the needs of the labor market,” Jolin-Barrette told the National Assembly.
All three opposition parties opposed the measure, calling it “inhuman” and saying the government did not justify dropping the 18,000 pending applications.
“Honestly, I don’t think this bill will be seen positively in history,” Liberal Party MP Dominique Anglade said, according to the Montreal Gazette. “It’s the image of Quebec which gets tarnished.”
Premier Francois Legault’s government resorted to a special parliamentary procedure to limit debate over the proposal.
His party won power in October with a promise to slash by more than 20 percent the number of immigrants and refugees arriving each year in Quebec.
The assembly reconvened on Sunday and after sometimes-acrimonious debate passed a bill banning the wearing of religious symbols by public servants including police officers, judges, lawyers, prison guards and teachers.
However the new law will only apply to new recruits, with existing employees unaffected.
The proposal, also backed by Legault, puts the premier at odds with the multiculturalism advocated by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.