North Korean envoy en route to Hanoi ahead of Trump-Kim summit: report

North Korean negotiator Kim Hyok Chol, center in blue tie, at Beijing international airport after disembarking an Air Koryo flight from Pyongyang on Tuesday, February 19. (AFP)
Updated 19 February 2019
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North Korean envoy en route to Hanoi ahead of Trump-Kim summit: report

  • Kim Hyok Chol arrived in Beijing Tuesday morning and was expected to board a plane bound for Hanoi later in the day
  • Kim Hyok Chol and his US counterpart Stephen Biegun were engaged in three days of talks in Pyongyang earlier this month
SEOUL: The North Korean special representative for the US arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, apparently en route to Vietnam to meet his Washington counterpart ahead of a second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said.
Kim Hyok Chol arrived in the Chinese capital at around 10 am (0200 GMT) and was expected to board a plane bound for Hanoi later in the day.
His trip comes three days after Kim Jong Un’s de-facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son, landed in Hanoi to discuss protocol and security matters with the US team ahead of the summit on February 27-28.
Kim Hyok Chol and his US counterpart Stephen Biegun were engaged in three days of talks in Pyongyang earlier this month, exploring each side’s positions on denuclearization ahead of the much-anticipated meeting.
Biegun said they had been productive, but more dialogue was needed.
“We have some hard work to do with the DPRK between now and then,” Biegun said, adding that he was “confident that if both sides stay committed, we can make real progress here.”
The US State Department said talks during Biegun’s trip explored Trump and Kim Jong Un’s “commitments of complete denuclearization, transforming US-DPRK relations and building a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
Specifically, discussions on declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War could have been on the table, with Biegun last month saying Trump was “ready to end this war.”
Alex Wong, US deputy assistant secretary of state for North Korea, is already in the Vietnamese capital preparing for the summit.
Biegun is expected to fly there soon from Washington to resume talks with Kim Hyok Chol.
Experts say tangible progress on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons will be needed for the second summit if it is to avoid being dismissed as “reality TV.”


Journey home begins for Christchurch’s foreign victims

The body of Ansi Alibava, who was killed during the New Zealand mosque attacks, is carried upon arrival at Cochin International Airport in Kochi on March 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 25 March 2019
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Journey home begins for Christchurch’s foreign victims

  • The bodies of foreigners killed by an Australian white supremacist gunman in the South Island city on March 15 are only now beginning to arrive back home

WELLINGTON: The bodies of two Christchurch shooting victims arrived in India as the repatriation process gets underway for foreign nationals killed in the mosque massacre that claimed 50 lives, officials said Monday.
The Indian High Commission in Wellington said the bodies of the two had arrived in their homeland and a third was expected later Monday.
The relatives of another two Indian victims opted to have their loved ones buried in New Zealand, a consulate spokesman said.
The bodies of foreigners killed by an Australian white supremacist gunman in the South Island city on March 15 are only now beginning to arrive back home after delays stemming from the police investigation into the massacre.
The victims, who came from across the Muslim world, were gathered for Friday prayers at two Christchurch mosques when the killing spree took place.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old motivated by the white extremist belief that Muslims were “invading” Western countries, was arrested within minutes of the massacre and has been charged with murder.
The bodies of the Indian victims are believed to be among the first to be repatriated.
“I’m not sure about the status of bodies from other nationalities but I can say we went through the process as quickly as possible,” a spokesman for the Indian High Commission in Wellington said.
“We completed the procedure within a couple of days of the bodies being released.”
The two repatriated Indian victims are Ansi Karippakulam Alibava, 23, a masters student from Kerala, and Ozair Kadir, 24, an aspiring commercial pilot from Hyderabad city.
The remains of Mahboob Khokhar, a 65-year-old retiree who was visiting his son in Christchurch when he was killed, are en route to India and should arrive about 10:00 p.m. (0300 Tuesday GMT).
The Indians buried in New Zealand are father and son Asif and Ramiz Vora, originally from Gujarat, who had celebrated the birth of Ramiz’s daughter just days before the attack.