North Korea faces ‘historic turning point’, says state media ahead of summit

The Rodong Sinmun commentary called on North Koreans to make greater efforts to boost the country's economy. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 February 2019
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North Korea faces ‘historic turning point’, says state media ahead of summit

  • Attention has been focused on whether the US team will offer to lift some economic sanctions on North Korea, in return for Pyongyang taking concrete steps toward denuclearisation
  • The Rodong Sinmun commentary called on North Koreans to make greater efforts to boost the country's economy

SEOUL: North Korea is facing a “significant, historic turning point”, state media said on Monday, ahead of a highly-anticipated second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
The meeting between the two leaders -- which will be the second time the pair have come together following their Singapore summit in June - is scheduled for Hanoi, Vietnam on February 27-28.
Attention has been focused on whether the US team will offer to lift some economic sanctions on North Korea, in return for Pyongyang taking concrete steps toward denuclearization.
“It is time for us to tighten our shoe strings and run fast, looking for a higher goal as we face this decisive moment,” the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in an editorial.
“Our country is facing a significant, historic turning point,” it added, without explicitly referencing the summit.
Earlier this month, US President Trump tweeted that North Korea will become a “great Economic Powerhouse” under Kim.
“He may surprise some but he won’t surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is,” said Trump.
The Rodong Sinmun commentary called on North Koreans to make greater efforts to boost the country’s economy.
North Korea is rising as a “strong, socialist nation,” and one’s true act of patriotism begins at one’s workplace, the commentary added.
“Each and every product should be made to make our country shine.”
North Korea, which holds most of the peninsula’s mineral resources, was once wealthier than the South, but decades of mismanagement and the demise of its former paymaster the Soviet Union have left it deeply impoverished.
In 2017 the UN Security Council banned the North’s main exports -- coal and other mineral resources, fisheries and textile products -- to cut off its access to hard currency in response to Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.


Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

Handout photo released by the Mexican presidency showing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answering questions during a press conference at the Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 4 min 35 sec ago
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Mexico demands apology for colonial ‘abuses,’ Spain hits back

  • “The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement

MEXICO CITY: The 500-year-old wounds of the Spanish conquest were ripped open afresh on Monday when Mexico’s president urged Spain and the Vatican to apologize for their “abuses” — a request Madrid said it “firmly rejects.”
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an anti-establishment leftist, reopened the debate over Spain’s centuries of dominance in the New World with a video posted to social media, urging Spanish King Felipe VI and Pope Francis to apologize for the conquest and the rights violations committed in its aftermath.
“I have sent a letter to the king of Spain and another to the pope calling for a full account of the abuses and urging them to apologize to the indigenous peoples (of Mexico) for the violations of what we now call their human rights,” Lopez Obrador, 65, said in the video, filmed at the ruins of the indigenous city of Comalcalco.
“There were massacres and oppression. The so-called conquest was waged with the sword and the cross. They built their churches on top of the (indigenous) temples,” he said.
“The time has come to reconcile. But let us ask forgiveness first.”
Spain’s reaction was swift and unequivocal.
“The government of Spain deeply regrets that the letter the Mexican president sent to his majesty the king, whose contents we firmly reject, has been made public,” it said in a statement.
“The arrival, 500 years ago, of Spaniards to present Mexican territory cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations,” it said.
“Our two brother nations have always known how to read our shared past without anger and with a constructive perspective, as free peoples with a shared history and extraordinary influence.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after a landslide election win that represented a firm break with Mexico’s traditional political parties.
A folksy populist, he pulls no punches in going after traditional elites — but had so far cultivated cordial relations with Spain, including during a visit to Mexico City by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this year.
Lopez Obrador made the remarks during a visit to his native Tabasco state, in southern Mexico.
He was later due to visit the nearby city of Centla. On March 14, 1519, the site was the scene of one of the first battles between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the indigenous peoples of the land now known as Mexico.
With the help of horses, swords, guns and smallpox — all unknown in the New World at the time — Cortes led an army of less than 1,000 men to defeat the Aztec empire, the start of 300 years of Spanish rule over Mexico.