South Korea’s Moon calls for ‘bold decisions’ ahead of Kim summit

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (C) gestures as he meets with US President Donald Trump (R) at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 September 2018

South Korea’s Moon calls for ‘bold decisions’ ahead of Kim summit

  • President Moon Jae-in’s comments come days before he’s to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the third time this year
  • Moon said Kim and Trump must think broadly and “make bold decisions” to move the diplomacy forward

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea’s president on Tuesday urged both North Korea and the United States to “make bold decisions” to break a deepening diplomatic impasse over the North’s nuclear ambitions, saying he’ll continue to act as mediator.
President Moon Jae-in’s comments come days before he’s to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for the third time this year to discuss how to achieve denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula. Moon said the summit must lead to another “big step” toward denuclearization.
The talks come at a crucial moment in the overall diplomacy, which is currently stuck amid recriminations between Washington and Pyongyang on how to follow through on vows made at a summit in June between Kim and President Donald Trump to rid the North of its nuclear weapons.
During a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Moon said Kim and Trump must think broadly and “make bold decisions” to move the diplomacy forward and get North Korea to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.
“North Korea must carry out its nuclear dismantling and the United States must take a corresponding step,” Moon said. “Under such a process, the two countries must pull back their deep-rooted mutual distrust caused by their 70 years of hostile relations.”
North Korea has dismantled its nuclear and rocket engine testing sites, but US officials have demanded more serious steps. Kim has reportedly said that his efforts must be reciprocated by corresponding US measures such as a joint declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War.
Moon said South Korea has no choice but to mediate between the two countries to promote dialogue, saying both Trump and Kim have asked him to play such a role. He wants “genuine talks” between Washington and Pyongyang to resume soon.
During a visit to Seoul on Tuesday, Steve Biegun, the new US special envoy on North Korea, stressed the need to maintain nuclear diplomacy.
“We have some hard work to do. But we also have tremendous opportunity created by President Trump, by President Moon and by Chairman Kim. We need to do everything we can to make the most of this moment of opportunity,“ Biegun said at the start of his meeting with South Korean nuclear envoy Lee Do-hoon.
South Korean officials said Kim recently told them that he remains committed to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and said he still has faith in Trump. The White House said Monday that Trump received a request from Kim to schedule a second meeting between them to follow up on their June summit and that planning is in motion to make it happen.
But it’s unclear whether deadlocked nuclear diplomacy will be resolved anytime soon. During his earlier summits with Trump and Moon, Kim made vague disarmament pledges without revealing a detailed road map or timetable for his denuclearization process.
The Koreas will hold military talks on Thursday and are pushing to open a liaison office at a North Korean border city on Friday, Seoul officials said, as part of cooperation efforts between the rivals ahead of the summit. 
Thursday’s military talks will deal with issues to ease tensions along their border, such as disarming a jointly controlled area at Panmunjom, removing front-line guard posts and conducting joint searches for soldiers missing from the Korean War, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.
When Kim met South Korean envoys last week, the sides agreed to try to find ways to build up mutual trust and prevent armed clashes between their militaries, according to South Korean officials.


Somalia names new PM, announces plan for national elections

Members of new parliament look on after they were sworn-in at Adan Adde airport in Mogadishu. Somalia is likely to hold elections next year. (AFP/File)
Updated 19 September 2020

Somalia names new PM, announces plan for national elections

  • The UN had described the pursuit of one-person, one-vote elections as a “historic milestone” on Somalia’s path to full democratization and peace after decades of war and violent instability in the Horn of Africa nation

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has appointed a new prime minister hours after brokering an agreement with regional leaders for elections next year that abandons a promised one-person, one-vote model.
Mohamed’s office announced late Thursday the appointment of Mohamed Hussein Roble, a Swedish-trained civil engineer and political neophyte, and “wished him to take duties and tasks ahead with diligence.”
He fills a vacancy left when former Premier Hassan Ali Khaire was removed by parliament in July for failing to pave the way for fully democratic elections due before February 2021.
The foreign-backed government in Mogadishu has been in drawn-out negotiations with Somalia’s federal states over how to proceed with parliamentary and presidential elections.
However, the process has been held up by political infighting between the president — better known by his nickname Farmajo — and the country’s regional leaders.
Somalia had set itself the goal of holding its first fully democratic, one-man, one-vote election since 1969 — as opposed to a complex system in which special delegates pick lawmakers who then vote for the president.
But an agreement reached between the president, five regional leaders and the mayor of Mogadishu has conceded that such a vote would be impossible within the time frame remaining before Somalia’s parliament expires in November, and Farmajo’s term ends in February.
In an official communique, the negotiators said delegates from Somalia’s myriad clans would elect the 275 MPs of the lower house, which in turn chooses the president.

SPEEDREAD

The foreign-backed government in Mogadishu has been in drawn-out negotiations with Somalia’s federal states over how to proceed with parliamentary and presidential elections.

While the process mirrors the last election held in 2017, it will go a bit further in terms of inclusivity, with 27,775 delegates voting — almost twice as many as last time.
No timeline was given, and it remains unclear what role the country’s independent election commission will play, with the federal and state governments to appoint their own agencies to oversee their respective polls.
The plan still needs to be approved by Somalia’s parliament.
The UN had described the pursuit of one-person, one-vote elections as a “historic milestone” on Somalia’s path to full democratization and peace after decades of war and violent instability in the Horn of Africa nation.
But observers had warned that such a goal was looking increasingly unlikely due to tensions with the states, technical aspects such as voter registration, and security challenges posed by the Al-Shabab militant group.
The fragile central government, chaired by Farmajo, controls only a part of Somali territory and relies on an international peacekeeping force to confront a violent insurgency from Al-Shabab in the countryside.
Mogadishu had been criticized by observers for engaging in political feuds with federal states to gain control in the election process, rather than focusing on the fight against the militants.