Pyongyang summit ‘an audacious step’ towards denuclearization, end of Korean War

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, left, meets with his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone to discuss next month’s summit between the Korean leaders. (Yonhap via Reuters)
Updated 15 August 2018
0

Pyongyang summit ‘an audacious step’ towards denuclearization, end of Korean War

SEOUL: A third summit of Korean leaders planned for next month will be a further step toward denuclearization of the peninsula and a peace treaty to end the Korean War, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to work toward denuclearization at a landmark summit in Singapore with US President Donald Trump in June, but the two countries have since struggled to agree on how to reach that goal.
Advancement in ties between North and South Korea is the “driving force” behind denuclearization, Moon said in a speech, lauding Monday’s pact for next month’s summit in Pyongyang, the North’s capital.
The two leaders will “take an audacious step to proceed toward the declaration of an end to the Korean War and the signing of a peace treaty as well as the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Moon added.
The neighbors remain technically in a state of war since the Korean War of 1950 to 1953 ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.
Moon said he hoped for speedy progress in talks between the US and North Korea, with steps by Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programs matched by “corresponding comprehensive measures” from Washington.
“When the deep-rooted distrust between the two Koreas and between the North and the US is lifted, the mutual agreement can be implemented,” he said on the peninsula’s 73rd anniversary of liberation from Japanese rule, which lasted from 1910 to 1945.
During their first summit in April, Moon and Kim had agreed to push for an end to the Korean War together with the US this year, but Washington has said its focus is on denuclearization, although Trump in Singapore had promised security guarantees for the North.
“When peace is established on the Korean peninsula along with complete denuclearization, economic cooperation can be carried out in earnest,” Moon said.
Plans to build a railway across the peninsula will kick off this year, he added, proposing an East Asian railroad community that groups China, Japan, Mongolia, Russia and the US.
Moon seeks to resume business cooperation with the North, including the railroad and a joint industrial park, but has been cautious because of international sanctions, chiefly spearheaded by Washington, over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
Moon said he aimed for “unification economic zones” along border provinces when military tension eases and there is lasting peace.
He estimated cross-border economic cooperation could be worth at least 170 trillion won ($149.9 billion) over the next 30 years, citing a study by a state-run think tank.


India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

Updated 22 September 2018
0

India’s Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal

  • Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
  • Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”

DELHI: India’s prime minister was under fire over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after comments by former French President François Hollande. Hollande was quoted as saying Narendra Modi’s government had influenced the choice of a local partner.
Indian political parties have been gunning for Modi over the 2016 purchase of 36 Rafale planes from Dassault Aviation estimated to be worth $8.7 billion, saying he had overpaid for the planes and had not been transparent.
The opposition, led by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, spent the past year alleging that the deal is a scam, in which India is overpaying for jets and the government is allowing a private company — billionaire Indian businessman Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defense — to benefit instead of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
On Friday, Hollande, who cleared the intergovernmental deal when he was in office, was quoted as saying New Delhi had put pressure on Dassault to choose Reliance.
“We had no choice. We took the interlocutor that was given to us,” he was reported as telling the French news service Mediapart, fueling a political storm in India.
The Indian government, however, has insisted all along that it had nothing to do with Dassault’s decision to work with Reliance Defense.
Under Indian defense procurement rules, a foreign firm must invest at least 30 percent of the contract in India to help to build up its manufacturing base and wean off imports.
HAL was the sole contender for being the local partner of Dassault Aviation, but when the deal was sealed in 2015 during Modi’s Paris trip the Reliance Defense procured the contract .
“The PM personally negotiated and changed the Rafale deal behind closed doors. Thanks to François Hollande, we now know he personally delivered a deal worth billions of dollars to ...Anil Ambani,” said Mr. Gandhi in a tweet.
Gandhi further tweeted: “The PM and Anil Ambani jointly carried out a ... SURGICAL STRIKE on the Indian Defense forces. Modi Ji you dishonored the blood of our martyred soldiers. Shame on you. You betrayed India’s soul.”
Gandhi repeated the charge in a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.
The BJP, however, says that there is no corruption.
“The fact that two sovereign heads of States negotiated a deal means that there is no room for corruption,” said Sudesh Verma, BJP spokesperson.
Talking to Arab News Verma emphasized that “the highest integrity was maintained in the deal. Now the Congress is not talking of corruption but favoritism. Merely by saying that Reliance Defense was favored by us would not cut any ice. These are insinuations and are irresponsible.”
Political analysts say that the BJP is “losing in the perception war.”
“No matter what the indian government says that perception is that the Indian government gave the offset contract to Anil Ambani, a guy who has no history of producing defense equipment,” says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a New Delhi based political analyst.
He added: “The halo around Modi has been severely diminished after the recent revelations. This is something which it would be very difficult to live it down now.”