North Korea’s Kim asks Trump for another meeting in new letter

A combination photo shows US President Donald Trump in New York, US September 21, 2017 and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, September 4, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 September 2018

North Korea’s Kim asks Trump for another meeting in new letter

  • The timing of a second Trump-Kim meeting was unclear

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump received a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un asking for a second meeting and the White House is already looking at scheduling one, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Monday.
The two leaders have been discussing North Korea’s nuclear program since their June 12 summit, which has been criticized for being short on concrete details about how and whether Kim is willing to give up on a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States.
The timing of a second Trump-Kim meeting was unclear. The sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month may provide an opportunity, although Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton said he did not believe Kim would attend.
Trump had told reporters on Friday that a personal letter from Kim was on the way.
“It was a very warm, very positive letter,” Sanders said at a briefing.
“The primary purpose of the letter was to request and look to schedule another meeting with the president which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating that,” she said.
Sanders told reporters the letter exhibited “a continued commitment to focus on denuclearization of the peninsula.” She said a military parade in Pyongyang on Sunday was “a sign of good faith” because it did not feature any long-range nuclear missiles.
Trump is doing the right thing in trying to set up another meeting with Kim, said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies from the Center for the National Interest, a think tank in Washington.
“When you combine Kim’s pledge to denuclearize by the end of Trump’s first term, as well as not displaying any long-range ballistic missiles during the north’s recent 70th anniversary celebrations, there are reasons for optimism,” he said.


Tech-savvy Indonesians go off-grid to help to remote villages fight virus

Updated 52 min 32 sec ago

Tech-savvy Indonesians go off-grid to help to remote villages fight virus

  • Young volunteers tackle tough terrain, pandemic myths in isolated northern region

JAKARTA: A group of tech-savvy young locals in Indonesia’s northern North Halmahera regency is spreading awareness about the dangers of COVID-19 in remote corners of the archipelago at a time when bureaucracy has impeded a rapid response to the pandemic.

The Relawan Merah Putih, or Red and White Volunteers, includes a multimedia expert, university students, lecturers, civil servants and a web developer in Tobelo, the main city of North Halmahera in North Maluku province, about 2,500 km from the capital Jakarta.

The city is located on Halmahera island, part of the Maluku Islands, Indonesia’s fabled Spice Islands on the northeastern part of the sprawling archipelago.

Stevie Recaldo Karimang, a 28-year-old freelance photographer and videographer, told Arab News that he set up the group after social restrictions introduced to counter the pandemic put him out of business. 

He quickly developed a website on the pandemic and created online flyers and audiovisual materials that he and 31 other volunteers distributed on social media platforms and messaging apps to educate the public about the pandemic soon after the first cases in Indonesia were confirmed in Jakarta in early March.

“We translated the information we took from the national COVID-19 task force into the market language spoken here, which is a mixture of Indonesian and the local dialect, to make it more understandable for the locals,” Karimang said.

The group also used a drone to issue public warnings against mass gatherings.

“The drone helped to remind people not to form a crowd when social restrictions were enforced. We attached a flashlight to the device to catch the crowd’s attention, and we were able to dismiss such gatherings.”

But the volunteers shifted their efforts to rural areas after the first coronavirus case in North Maluku province was confirmed on March 23.

Jubhar Mangimbulude, a microbiology expert at Halmahera University and the group’s adviser, said the team had visited 30 isolated villages out of 196 townships in the regency, which is home to 161 million people.

“We reached one village after hours of driving over rough terrain. We have to use four-wheel-drive vehicles because along the way we may have to cross a river where the bridge is damaged,” he told Arab News.

Mangimbulude said that many villagers were unaware of the pandemic and only knew from TV that a dangerous virus was spreading quickly and infecting people. He was glad to find that no COVID-19 cases had been detected among the villagers.

But he acknowledged that misinformation was rife and said that he had to debunk myths about “how alcohol could be used to prevent the disease.”

“The villagers heard that the virus can be killed with heat in one’s body, and since drinking alcohol can warm the body, they encouraged their children and elders to drink a local alcoholic beverage made of fermented sugar palm fruit,” Mangimbulude said.

Fellow volunteer Oscar Berthomene, a local civil servant, said that the group was able to move faster than the regency administration whose bureaucracy slowed down the response to the pandemic.

“I have support from my supervisor, and we were able to help their activities with cars to allow them to move around,” he told Arab News.

The regency has about 18 percent of the 953 cases in the province, which make up about 1.5 percent of the national total of 62,142 as of Saturday.