Park admits security threat from North

Updated 21 December 2012
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Park admits security threat from North

SEOUL: Incoming President Park Geun-hye, basking in her election as South Korea’s first female leader, promised yesterday to stand tough on national security despite seeking engagement with North Korea.
In her first policy address since her historic win on Wednesday, Park stressed the “grave” security threat posed by the North as underscored by last week’s rocket launch.
She also pledged to work for regional stability in Northeast Asia where South Korea, China and Japan are engaged in a series of bitter territorial disputes.
“The launch of North Korea’s long-range missile symbolically showed how grave the security situation facing us is,” Park said.
“I will keep the promise I made to you to open a new era on the Korean peninsula, based on strong security and trust-based diplomacy,” she added.
During her campaign, Park had distanced herself from the hardline policy of outgoing President Lee Myung-Bak who suspended major humanitarian aid to the North.
Park had promised a dual policy of greater engagement and “robust deterrence”, and had not ruled out a summit with the North’s young leader Kim Jong-Un, who came to power a year ago.
Analysts say she will be restricted by hawks in her ruling conservative New Frontier Party, as well as an international community intent on punishing the North for what it saw as a disguised ballistic missile test.
“Given her basic stance towards Pyongyang and the rocket launch, she is unlikely to be the first mover in improving relations with the North,” said Hong Hyun-Ik of the Sejong Institute think tank.
“But she won’t object if the second Obama administration moves to engage the North in dialogue after the dust over the rocket launch has settled,” Hong said.
China, North Korea’s only major ally and main economic lifeline, congratulated Park on her election and pushed for an improvement in Seoul’s ties with Pyongyang.
“We hope the North and South of the Korean peninsula can resolve their problems through peaceful means and realize a lasting peace,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
Park promised to work on building trust in Northeast Asia but in an aside clearly aimed at Japan, stressed that stability had to be based on “a correct historical perception”.
Seoul and Tokyo are embroiled in a sovereignty row over a tiny group of South Korea-controlled islands in the Sea of Japan. Japan is mired in a separate but similar dispute with China.


British PM faces Brexit showdown with pro-EU rebels

Updated 20 June 2018
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British PM faces Brexit showdown with pro-EU rebels

  • MPs will vote on amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill setting out how much power lawmakers will have if the government fails to agree a departure deal before Brexit in March 2019
  • The vote, due on Wednesday afternoon or early evening, could have implications for Britain’s wider Brexit strategy, indicating where the power lies in parliament

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown with her pro-EU MPs on Wednesday over parliament’s role in the final Brexit deal, which could influence her entire negotiation strategy.
MPs will vote on amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill setting out how much power lawmakers will have if the government fails to agree a departure deal before Brexit in March 2019.
May says she expects to get an agreement with Brussels, but warned that any attempt to tie her hands could undermine the ongoing negotiations.
She averted a rebellion by pro-EU MPs in her Conservative Party on the issue of parliamentary powers last week with a promise of a compromise, but within days they had rejected her proposal as inadequate.
Instead they worked with peers to introduce their own amendment to the unelected upper House of Lords, which agreed it by a landslide on Monday.
The amendment now returns to MPs in the elected lower House of Commons, where Conservative rebels will ally with opposition parties in a bid to finally make it law.
May’s spokesman refused to say if he believes the government has the numbers to win the vote, but made clear that no more concessions would be forthcoming.
“We cannot accept the amendment on a meaningful vote agreed in the Lords,” he said, adding that it “would undermine our ability in the negotiations to get the best deal for the country.”
“We will be retabling our original amendment,” he said, adding: “We hope that all MPs will be able to support the government’s position.”
The vote, due on Wednesday afternoon or early evening, could have implications for Britain’s wider Brexit strategy, indicating where the power lies in parliament.
May commands only a slim majority in the 650-seat Commons, made possible through an alliance with Northern Ireland’s 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs.
A victory for the pro-EU rebels would embolden them ahead of debates next month on Britain’s future trading relationship with the European Union, which they are seeking to keep as close as possible.
It would likely anger euroskeptics, who accuse the rebels of seeking to thwart Brexit.
They are also becoming increasingly frustrated with the withdrawal process under May’s leadership.
Leading Conservative rebel Dominic Grieve denied he was trying to undermine the government or stop Brexit, but warned that if parliament rejected the final Brexit deal, there would be a crisis.
“That’s what wakes me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat,” he told Sky News television.
“The very reason I’ve prompted this amendment is to provide a mechanism to make sure that we don’t come to government collapse immediately.”
But euroskeptic Conservative MP Graham Stringer said Grieve and his supporters were only interested in “sabotaging the whole process.”
“The purpose of the latest Grieve ruse is to give parliament the power to delay or stop Brexit,” he said.
Despite agreement on Britain’s financial settlement and EU citizens’ rights, the Brexit talks are progressing slowly, and there are few hopes of a breakthrough at an EU summit later this month.
Both sides are still publicly aiming for an agreement in October, but this is looking more and more difficult.
Negotiations are currently stalled on how to avoid border checks between Northern Ireland, a part of the UK, and neighboring EU member Ireland when Britain develops its own trade and customs policies.
“Serious divergences” remain over Northern Ireland, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Tuesday after a final round of talks between London and Brussels ahead of the European summit.
The British government has also yet to decide on what it wants from the future economic relationship.
It has been clear about one area, security cooperation — but many of its proposals were on Tuesday knocked back by Barnier.
He said Britain could not stay in the European Arrest Warrant, take part in meetings of policing agency Europol or access EU-only police databases.
“We need more realism about what is and what is not possible,” he said.