North Korea boat collides with Japan sea patrol

Some North Korean fishermen are traveling far out to sea in order to satisfy government mandates for bigger catches. (AFP file photo)
Updated 07 October 2019

North Korea boat collides with Japan sea patrol

  • The North Korean boat was believed to be a fishing vessel, which reportedly capsized partially after the crash

TOKYO: The Japan Coast Guard said on Monday it had rescued more than 20 crew members from a North Korean fishing vessel which collided with a Japanese patrol boat that was chasing it out of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

“We don’t know how many were on board in the first place, but we were informed that more than 20 were rescued. It appears probably no one else is left in the water,” a Japan Coast Guard official said.

The incident occurred 350 kilometers northwest of Noto peninsula in central Japan, the official said.

“We’ve been strengthening patrols around the water there in cooperation with the fisheries agency,” in recent years following reports that many North Korean fishing boats were poaching fish and squids, Japan coast guard spokesman Kazuma Nohara said.
Experts say some fishermen from the North are traveling far out to sea in order to satisfy government mandates for bigger catches.
And dozens of North Korean fishing vessels wash up on Japan’s coast every year.
But their old and poorly equipped vessels are prone to mechanical faults and other problems, including running out of fuel, and there are few ways for them to call for rescue.
Boats have also washed up on Japanese shores with the crew on board dead — referred to as “ghost ships” by local media.
In 2018, 10 North Koreans rescued from a tiny wooden boat drifting off northern Japan were deported back to their country.


‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Afghan envoy Daudzai

Updated 09 July 2020

‘Political reconciliation’ with Pakistan top priority: Afghan envoy Daudzai

  • Pakistan played positive role in US-Taliban peace talks, says diplomat

PESHAWAR: Afghanistan’s newly appointed special envoy for Pakistan has had put “mending political relations” between the two estranged nations as one of his top priorities.

Mohammed Umer Daudzai, on Tuesday said that his primary focus would be to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan and maintain strong ties with Pakistan, especially after Islamabad’s key role in the Afghan peace process earlier this year.

In an exclusive interview, the diplomat told Arab News: “Two areas have been identified to focus on with renewed vigor, such as lasting peace in Afghanistan and cementing Pak-Afghan bilateral ties in economic, social, political and other areas.”

In order to achieve these aims, he said, efforts would be intensified “to mend political relations” between the neighboring countries.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,600-kilometer porous border and have been at odds for years. Bonds between them have been particularly strained due to a deep mistrust and allegations of cross-border infiltration by militants.

Kabul has blamed Islamabad for harboring Taliban leaders after they were ousted from power in 2001. But Pakistan has denied the allegations and, instead, accused Kabul of providing refuge to anti-Pakistan militants – a claim rejected by Afghanistan.

Daudzai said his immediate priority would be to focus on “political reconciliation” between the two countries, especially in the backdrop of a historic peace agreement signed in February this year when Pakistan played a crucial role in facilitating a troop withdrawal deal between the US and the Taliban to end the decades-old Afghan conflict. “Afghanistan needs political reconciliation which the Afghan government has already been working on to achieve bottom-up harmony,” he added.

Daudzai’s appointment Monday by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took place days after Islamabad chose Mohammed Sadiq as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special representative for Afghanistan.

Reiterating the need to maintain strong bilateral ties with all of its neighbors, Daudzai said Pakistan’s role was of paramount importance to Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has a positive role in the US-Taliban peace talks, and now Islamabad could play a highly significant role in the imminent intra-Afghan talks. I will explore all options for a level-playing field for the success of all these initiatives,” he said, referring in part to crucial peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban which were delayed due to a stalemate in a prisoner exchange program – a key condition of the Feb. 29 peace deal.

Under the agreement, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and around 1,000 government prisoners were to be freed by March 10. So far, Afghanistan has released 3,000 prisoners, while the Taliban have freed 500. Daudzai said that while dates had yet to be finalized, the intra-Afghan dialogue could begin “within weeks.”

He added: “A date for intra-Afghan talks hasn’t been identified yet because there is a stalemate on prisoners’ release. But I am sure they (the talks) will be kicked off within weeks.”

Experts say Daudzai’s appointment could give “fresh momentum” to the stalled process and revitalize ties between the two estranged neighbors.

“Mohammed Sadiq’s appointment...could lead Kabul-Islamabad to a close liaison and better coordination,” Irfanullah Khan, an MPhil scholar and expert on Afghan affairs, told Arab News.

Daudzai said that he would be visiting Islamabad to kickstart the process as soon as the coronavirus disease-related travel restrictions were eased.

Prior to being appointed as the special envoy, he had served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan from April 2011 to August 2013.

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