Japanese man detained in North Korea: media

A police man directs traffic on a street lined with apartment buildings in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this June 15, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Japanese man detained in North Korea: media

  • Tokyo has advised Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country
  • North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns

TOKYO: A Japanese man has recently been detained in North Korea, a potential diplomatic dilemma as Tokyo pushes to hold a summit with Pyongyang, local media reported Saturday.
It was not immediately clear when or why the unidentified man was held but he may be charged with spying, the Asahi Shimbun reported, quoting government sources.
“Securing the man’s safety is the top priority but it is possible the North Korean side might make use of the case as a bargaining chip for its negotiations with Japan,” a source close the Japanese government told the paper.
Further details, such as the purpose of the man’s visit to North Korea, were not immediately available.
A foreign ministry official declined to confirm the news reports “due to the nature of such a case.”
“But the government is taking action and gathering information,” the official told AFP.
Tokyo has advised Japanese citizens against travel to North Korea as part of its economic sanctions on the country.
North Korea has a long history of arresting foreigners on spying charges and then using them as diplomatic pawns.
In 1999, a Japanese newspaper reporter in North Korea was detained for about two years on spying charges, Kyodo News reported.
Japan has largely maintained a hard line on Pyongyang — which fired multiple test missiles toward Japanese territory — and has long pushed for movement on citizens who were abducted decades ago by North Korean agents.
But reports suggest Tokyo is considering a summit soon between Kim and Abe in the wake of South Korea and Washington’s recent diplomatic detente with Pyongyang. Japanese media have floated a possible meeting on the sidelines of an international forum in Russia’s Vladivostok next month.
“Ultimately, I myself will have to directly face chairman Kim Jong Un and engage in dialogue and resolve the nuclear, missile and, above all, the all-important abduction issue, and then build new Japan-North Korea relations,” Abe said Monday.
During historic talks with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, Kim reportedly said he was open to a meeting with Abe.


Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

Updated 41 min 30 sec ago
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Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Office says Afghanistan has not shared any evidence to support its recent allegations against Pakistan
  • Imran Khan’s idea of a soft border between Pakistan and Afghanistan may have suffered a big setback in the wake of the Ghazni attack

PESHAWAR: In the backdrop of the Taliban’s brazen assault on the southern city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani alleged that the bodies of the perpetrators had arrived in Pakistan, though Islamabad maintained that Kabul had not officially shared any information or evidence in this regard.
Soon after that, the Afghan president said in a fiery speech to a jirga in Ghazni: “I have a message for Pakistan. Dead bodies (of the Taliban) have arrived in (Pakistan). Peace cannot be forcefully imposed on Afghanistan. Where did they (Taliban) come from and why are they being treated in (Pakistani) hospitals?”
But Pakistan strongly rejected reports claiming that some Taliban fighters involved in the Ghazni attack had been offered medical treatment in its hospitals.
In the absence of any official communication through regular channels established bilaterally, such reports cannot be given any credence, said Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday.
Haq Nawaz, a senior Peshawar-based security analyst, told Arab News that the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan faced a string of daunting challenges, such as economic revival, political stability, tackling corruption, and improving relations with his country’s immediate neighbors.
However, he added that recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have stepped up violent activities, will probably constitute a much bigger predicament for the new political administration.
He recalled that Khan had mentioned in his victory speech that he wanted a European Union-style soft border with Afghanistan, claiming that the idea had seemingly received a setback after the Ghazni attack.
“The latest bout of allegations will have a negative impact on the process of reviving good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Nawaz noted.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed “deep concern” over the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan and lamented in a statement released by the military’s media wing the loss of precious lives.
Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan was not supporting terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. He added that the allegation about the movement of injured or dead terrorists from Ghazni to Pakistan was incorrect.
However, the army chief noted that there were scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan, and that some of them periodically fell victim to acts of terrorism along with their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. “Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate,” he maintained.
Yet, the Afghan president sought an explanation from Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on the Ghazni attack.
“Imran Khan, you are the son of Pashtun parents. Investigate this and give me an answer. General Bajwa, you have repeatedly given me assurances over phone calls that special attention would be given to the issue of peace in Afghanistan once elections took place in Pakistan. Now give me an answer,” Ghani said while addressing a group of tribal elders attending the jirga.
Bajwa said that different factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hiding in their sanctuaries in Afghanistan after assuming Afghan identities, were transported to Pakistan for medical help after receiving injuries.
Nawaz said the Afghan government should share relevant evidence with Pakistan in this case, arguing that using the media or social media to deal with such serious and sensitive developments can worsen the situation.
He said it was not just a statement or allegation from an ordinary official since the claim was made by a head of state, adding that both countries should settle such teething issues through dialogue and diplomatic channels.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in its statement: “Such reports can only be viewed as malicious propaganda to vitiate the existing cooperation between the two countries.”