Russia warns US against using force over North Korea

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (Reuters)
Updated 31 August 2017

Russia warns US against using force over North Korea

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has urged Washington not to use force against North Korea, as tensions surged after the latest missile test by Pyongyang.
In a phone call late Wednesday with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Lavrov “underscored... the need to refrain from any military steps that could have unpredictable consequences,” the foreign ministry in Moscow said.
Russia’s lead diplomat said any attempts to toughen sanctions against North Korea would be “counterproductive and dangerous” while condemning Pyongyang’s firing of a missile over Japan as a “gross violation” of United Nations resolutions.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at a briefing on Thursday warned that “the contest of force that is now being demonstrated, will only lead the region to the brink of a military conflict.”
She pushed for holding peace talks to cool down the situation, saying that “at the moment only Russia and China have put forward a realistic initiative.”
“Once again we call all the involved sides to urgently start establishing dialogue without preconditions, based on the proposals on the Russian and Chinese road map,” Zakharova said.
Early on Tuesday, the reclusive state fired an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 over Japan, prompting US President Donald Trump to insist that “all options” were on the table in an implied threat of pre-emptive military action.
The UN Security Council denounced North Korea’s latest missile test, unanimously demanding that Pyongyang halt the program.
US heavy bombers and stealth jet fighters took part in a joint live fire drill in South Korea on Thursday, intended as a show of force against the North, Seoul said.
And British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is visiting Japan, said Thursday that London and Tokyo would work together to step up the pace of sanctions against nuclear-armed North Korea after the latest launch.


Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

Updated 13 August 2020

Sri Lankan leader appoints Cabinet, state ministers

  • Spotlight on economy, security as 67 officials take oath in palace ceremony

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa administered the oath of office to 28 new Cabinet ministers and 39 state ministers on Wednesday during a swearing-in ceremony at the Kandy Royal Palace, a week after the Aug. 5 general elections.

“The Cabinet has been formed in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national program. Special attention was paid to national security, economic development, infrastructure, education, health and sports,” a Presidential Secretariat statement said.

While President Rajapaksa retained the defense portfolio, his brother, Namal Rajapaksa — the 34-year-old son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa — was named minister for youth and sports.

Several senior politicians, including former president Maithripala Sirisena, were left out of the new Cabinet.

The ninth parliament is set to meet on Aug. 20.

Only two members from minority communities, Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and Justice Minister Ali Sabry, were appointed from the Tamil and Muslim communities, respectively.

“I’m delighted to get this portfolio in recognition of my services to the nation, particularly to the legal field,” Sabry said.

He is the second Muslim justice minister to assume office after Rauff Hakeem of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, led by PM Rajapaksa, polled 6,853,690, or 59 percent of votes, and secured a total of 145 seats in parliament, including 17 of the National List seats.

Sabry said government efforts to limit the coronavirus pandemic had “impressed the nation enough to vote them into power.”

Lawyer Razik Zarook said: “It’s a great victory for the Muslim community. The era of mistrust and suspicion is over, and the foundation is laid to build the bridges of friendship and amity.”

However, international political lobbyist Muheed Jeeran told Arab News that though the Cabinet is promising, it is “full of confusion.”

“Sabry’s appointment has disappointed the nationalist group who want to implement one nation, one law,” he said.

“But it is a joyful moment for Muslims who supported the SLPP. However, it will be difficult for Sabry as justice minister. Will he become the wooden handle of the axe to chop the tree of traditional Muslim laws as per the nationalist agenda, or will he stand for Muslim rights?”