North, South Korea hold military talks, US to suspend drills on Korean peninsula

Photo handout photo taken and provided by the South Korean Defense Ministry shows South Korea’s chief delegate Major General Kim Do-gyun (R) shaking hands with his North Korean counterpart An Ik San (L) during their high-level military talks in Panmunjom, the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas, June 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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North, South Korea hold military talks, US to suspend drills on Korean peninsula

SEOUL- WASHINGTON: Large military drills between the United States and South Korea have been “suspended indefinitely,” a senior US official told AFP on Thursday.
“Major military exercises have been suspended indefinitely on the Korean peninsula,” the official said, two days after President Donald Trump said the US would halt joint military exercises with its security ally Seoul.
Earlier, North and South Korea failed to reach any concrete agreement during their military talks on Thursday, as two-star generals from both sides met just two days after US President Donald Trump floated his plan to halt joint exercises with South Korea.
The talks, their first in more than a decade, held in the border village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone (DMZ), followed on from an inter-Korean summit in April at which leaders of the two Koreas had agreed to defuse tensions and cease “all hostile acts.”
They agreed to implement a 2004 agreement, in which the two sides’ militaries vowed to work to prevent unexpected clash in the West Sea, a joint statement said.
They also discussed the planned establishment of a hotline between the two militaries, but failed to set the specific time table for its reinstatement.
Kim Do-gyun, the South’s lead negotiator who is in charge of North Korea policy at the Defense Ministry, said before departing for the DMZ that the two sides would discuss the schedule of a ministerial meeting, which was not addressed in a joint statement.
“The nature of the tasks was not to be resolved at once,” Kim told reporters after the meeting.
The talks came two days after Trump said he would stop “expensive, provocative” war games with the South, following his historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump’s move had caught Seoul officials off guard as Washington did not give them a prior notice. But South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday his government would have to be flexible when it came to military pressure on North Korea if it was sincere about denuclearization.
The military talks had been initially slated for May, but were postponed after the North called off another planned high-level meeting in protest against US-South Korean air combat exercises.
The process was put back on track during a surprise second summit early this month between Kim and Moon.
The last time the two Koreas held military talks was in 2007.
Ahn Ik-san, the North’s chief delegate, said the delay was due to “certain headwinds” without elaborating, adding the two sides should overcome future obstacles based on mutual understanding and the spirit of the inter-Korean summit.


Nearly four in 10 US HIV infections from people unaware of infection

This electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health shows a human T cell, in blue, under attack by HIV, in yellow, the virus that causes AIDS. (AP)
Updated 9 min 15 sec ago
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Nearly four in 10 US HIV infections from people unaware of infection

  • The Trump administration has said it will invest $291 million in the next financial year to fight HIV/AIDS, which has plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000 annual transmissions

WASHINGTON: Almost 40 percent of new HIV cases in the US occur because people do not know they are infected, while a similar proportion know but are not in treatment, according to a study released Monday.
The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based on 2016 data and aims to bolster a strategy outlined by President Donald Trump to end the epidemic within 10 years.
The strategy has two main strands: far more widespread screening, and enabling the infected better access to treatment from the moment they test positive.
The study found that 38 percent of infections came from HIV-positive people who were unaware of their status, and 43 percent from people who knew they were infected but took no anti-retroviral drugs.
The remaining infections came from people who were receiving HIV treatment but were not yet “virally suppressed.”
The CDC blamed financial, social and other reasons for people not using medication, which these days typically comes in the form of a daily pill with minimal side effects.
The study said that the infection rate from the half million people in the United States who take medication and are virally suppressed — meaning they cannot pass on the disease to others — was zero.

The most at-risk group remains homosexual men, with almost three-quarters of new infections coming from men having sex with men, the report said.
Five percent of infections came from intravenous drug abuse among homosexual men, while 10 percent came from injecting drugs among the rest of the population.
Twelve percent of infections were among heterosexuals. Overall, the highest rate of transmission was among 13 to 24-year-olds.
The Trump administration has said it will invest $291 million in the next financial year to fight HIV/AIDS, which has plateaued since 2013 to around 39,000 annual transmissions.
The goal is to reduce that number by 75 percent within five years and by 90 percent in 10 years.
Questioned about the relatively small amount of money earmarked for the multi-billion dollar task of treating HIV carriers, CDC head Robert Redfield said he was “confident that the resources that are required to accomplish this mission are in the long term plan.”
The CDC, based in Atlanta, Georgia, wants doctors to make HIV screening a routine procedure.
“Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime,” said Eugene McCray, the head of the CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.
“Those at higher risk should get tested at least annually,” he said.
“The key to controlling is helping those with HIV to control the virus,” said the CDC’s Jonathan Mermin, who focuses on preventing the spread of the HIV as well as other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and hepatitis.
“Time spent working closely with patients who are having trouble paying for, picking up or taking their daily medications is time well spent“