North Korea sends top diplomat to key ally China

North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, was due to arrive in China, a key ally, on Thursday. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018
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North Korea sends top diplomat to key ally China

  • Ri Yong Ho was scheduled to meet Friday with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi
  • Ri’s visit also comes amid intense speculation over the possibility that Kim will visit South Korea this month

BEIJING: North Korea’s foreign minister was due to arrive in key ally China Thursday for talks that come amid stalled efforts to persuade Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs.
Ri Yong Ho was scheduled to meet Friday with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
China is the North’s most important economic and political partner, but has signed on to United Nations economic sanctions aimed at pressuring leader Kim Jong Un to abandon his drive to develop nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them.
Kim sharply raised tensions with nuclear and missile tests last year, but suddenly reached out to South Korea and the United States this year with a vague nuclear disarmament pledge. North Korea is now seeking security guarantees from the US and relief from international sanctions.
Ri is also expected to be briefed on discussions last week between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump, who recently announced that his next meeting with Kim would likely happen in January or February.
Despite the optimism among some circles generated by Kim and Trump’s June summit meeting in Singapore, little has transpired since then.
At the time, some experts said the United States could soon accept a North Korean request for jointly declaring the end of the 1950-53 Korean War as part of security assurances to the North. But diplomacy has since come to a halt amid disputes over a US demand that North Korea first produce a full inventory of its nuclear weapons and take other denuclearization steps before winning significant outside rewards.
For its part, North Korea wants sanctions relief, an end-of-war declaration and other reciprocal measures from the United States, arguing it has taken some steps, like dismantling its nuclear testing facility and releasing American detainees.
China fought on North Korea’s behalf during the Korean War, and while ties have grown frosty at times, Xi hosted Kim for three summits in China this year, both before and after Kim’s meeting with Trump.
However, Xi did not attend celebrations of the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding in September in what was seen as an indication that Beijing expected further actions from Kim, including concrete progress toward denuclearization.
Ri’s visit also comes amid intense speculation over the possibility that Kim will visit South Korea this month.
No North Korean leader has traveled to South Korea since the end of the Korean War, which killed millions. There have been five summit talks between the leaders of the Koreas, three of them between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but they all happened either in Pyongyang or the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom.


UK's PM Theresa May wins vote of confidence in her leadership

Updated 13 December 2018
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UK's PM Theresa May wins vote of confidence in her leadership

LONDON: Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday survived a bid by her own MPs to unseat her, securing the support of 200 Conservative colleagues while 117 voted against her.

The British leader overcame the party no-confidence vote after it was triggered by hardline Brexit supporters who despise the deal she struck with the EU last month.

It leaves May weakened but immune from a further internal challenge for a year.

May said after the result that she would get on with her "renewed mission" of taking Britain out of the European Union.

"Following this ballot, we now have to get on with the job of delivering Brexit for the British people and building a better future for this country," May told reporters outside her Downing Street residence.

May said she would seek legal and political assurances from EU leaders on Thursday on the backstop arrangement over the border between EU member state Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Wednesday that Britain's parliament needs to regain control of the Brexit process.

"Tonight's vote makes no difference to the lives of our people," Corbyn said in a statement. "She must now bring her dismal deal back to the House of Commons next week so Parliament can take back control."