Vietnam train station on lockdown ahead of Kim Jong Un’s expected arrival

Police secure Dong Dang train station where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is expected to arrive. (AP)
Updated 25 February 2019

Vietnam train station on lockdown ahead of Kim Jong Un’s expected arrival

DONG DANG, Vietnam: The train station on the Vietnam-China border where Kim Jong Un is expected to arrive by rail was closed to the public and surrounded by armed guards on Monday, days ahead of the North Korean leader’s summit with Donald Trump.
Kim boarded his trademark olive-green train in Pyongyang on Saturday and its armored carriages were later spotted crossing a bridge into China.
The train apparently bypassed Beijing and is now thought to be chugging south en route to Vietnam, which is hastily preparing for the second meeting between Kim and US President Trump after their historic first summit in Singapore last June.
Sources in Vietnam said Kim could arrive at the Dong Dang border station in the early hours of Tuesday following his epic 4,000-kilometer, two-and-a-half-day journey.
His motorcade is likely to drive from Dong Dang to Hanoi and in an unprecedented move, the entire 170-kilometer stretch of road will be completely closed from 6:00 am to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday.
An AFP reporter at the scene saw armed guards stationed at Dong Dang station on Monday morning, while workers tended to the rail tracks.
“(The station) is closed, no public access. We don’t know when it’s closed until but around tomorrow,” a guard said, requesting anonymity.
Kim’s route through China remained a tightly guarded secret.
Ifeng, the online Chinese-language news website of Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, posted a video on its Twitter-like Weibo account showing what it described as Kim’s special train passing through Wuhan in the central province of Hubei at 7:15A.M. local time on Monday.
Vietnam said on Saturday that Kim would make an official visit to the country “in the coming days,” but did not say whether that would be before or after the Trump-Kim summit on February 27-28.
Two sources said on Monday that Kim would stay at a modern hotel in downtown Hanoi, about one kilometer (mile) from the colonial-era Government Guesthouse where the summit could take place.
The Melia hotel boasts of its “elegant interiors with gorgeous views of the city” and is connected to Hanoi’s only Rolls-Royce dealership catering to the city’s growing class of super-rich.
A staff member said this week the hotel was fully booked until early March, but would not be drawn on any VIP guests.
The White House press center will be set up at the same hotel, and North Korean security personnel were seen entering the building on Sunday.
During his trip Kim is also expected to visit industrial zones in Vietnam’s provinces of Quang Ninh and Bac Ninh, which is home to a Samsung factory.
Trump and Kim’s first meeting ended with a vaguely worded statement to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, and both sides are under pressure to walk away from this week’s summit with concrete deliverables.


Ecuador government, protesters agree deal to end deadly unrest

Updated 21 sec ago

Ecuador government, protesters agree deal to end deadly unrest

  • ‘With this agreement, the mobilizations ... across Ecuador are terminated and we commit ourselves to restoring peace in the country’
QUITO: Ecuador’s president and indigenous leaders reached an agreement Sunday to end nearly two weeks of violent protests against austerity measures put in place to obtain a multi-billion-dollar loan from the IMF.
President Lenin Moreno met with Jaime Vargas, the head of the indigenous umbrella grouping CONAIE, for four hours of talks in the capital Quito broadcast live on state television.
“With this agreement, the mobilizations ... across Ecuador are terminated and we commit ourselves to restoring peace in the country,” said a joint statement, adding the government had withdrawn an order that removed fuel subsidies.
Rocketing prices after Moreno cut the subsidies to obtain a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund sparked 12 days of demonstrations that left seven people dead.
The statement was read by an official from the United Nations, which mediated the talks along with the Catholic Church.
“The measures applied in all our territories are lifted,” confirmed Vargas, wearing face paint and a head wreath of feathers.
Moreno had declared a curfew and placed Quito under military control to quell the unrest.
On Sunday, violent clashes continued before the talks began as police fought to disperse protesters who tried to put up a barricade of debris from Saturday’s unrest.
“Native brothers, I have always treated you with respect and affection,” Moreno said as the talks opened. “It was never my intention to affect the poorest sectors.”
Protesters had converged on Quito from around the country. Authorities said 1,349 people had been injured and 1,152 detained in the demonstrations.
The violence forced Moreno to relocate his government to Ecuador’s second city, Guayaquil, and hit the oil industry hard with the energy ministry suspending more than two-thirds of its distribution of crude.
Protesters seized three oil facilities in the Amazon.
CONAIE had previously rejected an offer of dialogue but reversed course Saturday.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier called on all groups “to commit to inclusive and meaningful talks, and to work in good faith toward a peaceful solution.”
Ecuador’s indigenous groups make up a quarter of the country’s 17.3 million people. Thousands from disadvantaged communities from across the Amazon and the Andes have traveled to Quito to spearhead demands the subsidies be reinstated.
Demonstrators on Saturday ransacked and set fire to the building housing the comptroller general’s office, which was shrouded in thick smoke after being attacked with fire bombs.
The prosecutor’s office said 34 people were arrested.
Protesters on Saturday also targeted a television station and a newspaper.
The Teleamazonas TV channel interrupted its regular broadcast to air images of broken windows, a burned vehicle and heavy police presence on the scene.
The station evacuated 25 employees, none of them hurt.
Nearby, protesters built barricades in front of the National Assembly building as police fired tear gas at them.
“We have nothing to do with the events at the comptroller’s office and Teleamazonas,” said CONAIE.
El Comercio newspaper reported on Twitter that its offices were attacked by a “group of unknowns.”
Protesters did not immediately heed the curfew that went into effect on Saturday, with security forces struggling to impose order in some parts of the city.
“Where are the mothers and fathers of the police? Why do they let them kill us?” cried Nancy Quinyupani, an indigenous woman.
The restrictions in Quito, a city of 2.7 million, came on top of a state of emergency Moreno had declared on October 3, deploying some 75,000 military and police and imposing a nighttime curfew in the vicinity of government buildings.
Moreno is struggling with an economic crisis that he blames on waste and corruption by Correa’s administration.