Seoul: North Korea canceled meeting with Washington

The meeting would have set up a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, above. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Seoul: North Korea canceled meeting with Washington

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea’s foreign minister quoted US officials as saying that it was North Korea that canceled a meeting this week between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a senior North Korean official on nuclear issues.
North Korea sent a notification to Washington to call off the meeting aimed at discussing the North’s denuclearization and setting up a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday.
Kang provided no reason on why North Korea canceled the meeting in New York. Kang told lawmakers she planned to discuss the matter with Pompeo over the phone. South Korea’s presidential office earlier said that the meeting’s postponement wouldn’t affect the momentum of talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
“We were notified by the United States that North Korea explained that (the meeting) should be postponed because both sides have busy schedules,” Kang said. “Secretary of State Pompeo has already said that the meeting will be rescheduled. I think it would be excessive to read too much into the postponement of the meeting.”
Trump told reporters at the White House that the United States is “in no rush” and that the meeting between Pompeo and his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong Chol would be rescheduled.
US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said the postponement was “purely a scheduling issue” but refused to elaborate. He did not provide a straightforward answer when asked whether a discord over US-led sanctions against the North, which Pyongyang says must be removed before any progress in nuclear talks, has made it more difficult to set up meetings.
“Timing, timing,” Palladino said. “This has to do with timing as a matter — we’re talking about scheduling. And I’ll leave it at that.”
Seoul has worked hard to revive nuclear diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang, which removed war fears among South Koreans following a provocative run in North Korean weapons tests and Trump’s threats of military action last year.
Kim shifted to diplomacy in 2018, meeting Trump in June between three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. But the North has been playing hardball since the summits, fueling doubts about whether Kim would ever deal away a nuclear program he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry last week criticized the United States for its continued support of sanctions and hinted it may resume nuclear development if the measures aren’t lifted.
Trump has been showing signs of slowing the pace of his diplomacy with North Korea, seemingly pivoting closer to his party’s mainstream on North Korea issues. Trump recently said he won’t play a “time game” with the North over a denuclearization deal.


Finns held in Muslim Malaysia over ‘Christian pamphlets’

Updated 21 November 2018
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Finns held in Muslim Malaysia over ‘Christian pamphlets’

  • hey are accused of breaking laws that forbid people from disturbing religious harmony, and could be jailed for up to five years
  • Issues related to race, religion and language are considered sensitive in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Four Finns have been arrested on a holiday island in Muslim-majority Malaysia for allegedly distributing pamphlets about Christianity, police said Wednesday, and may face up to five years in jail.
Religion is a deeply sensitive issue in Malaysia, where more than 60 percent of the populaton is Muslim, and critics say rising conservatism has chipped away at a traditionally tolerant brand of Islam in recent years.
Authorities detained the two men and two women on Tuesday after receiving complaints from members of the public that they were handing out Christian materials on the popular resort island of Langkawi, said local police chief Mohamad Iqbal Ibrahim.
“Police have arrested four Finnish nationals in Langkawi for allegedly distributing religious material in a public place,” he told AFP.
“They were distributing pamphlets related to Christianity.”
The Finns, aged between 27 and 60, were arrested at a hotel and police seized pens, notebooks and a bag.
They are accused of breaking laws that forbid people from disturbing religious harmony. If found guilty, they could be jailed for between two and five years.
The suspects have been remanded in custody while police investigate.
Langkawi, a jungle-clad island in northwest Malaysia, attracts millions of tourists to its palm-fringed beaches every year.
Malaysia, home to about 32 million people, has sizeable ethnic Chinese and Indian communities who have long complained about rising Islamization.
In 2010, three churches were attacked with firebombs, causing major damage to one, as Muslims sought to prevent Christians from using the word “Allah.”
Issues related to race, religion and language are considered sensitive in Malaysia, which witnessed deadly riots between members of the majority Malay community and ethnic Chinese in 1969.