Kim vows to fight US sanctions, visits sacred N. Korean peak

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This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 9, 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspecting Farm No. 1116 under Unit 810 of the Korean Peoples' Army, at an undisclosed location in the country. (AFP)
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rides a horse during snowfall in Mount Paektu in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
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This undated picture released by Korean Central News Agency on October 16, 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un riding a white horse amongst the first snow at Mouth Paektu. (AFP)
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rides a horse during snowfall in Mount Paektu in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on October 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 October 2019

Kim vows to fight US sanctions, visits sacred N. Korean peak

  • The Korean Central News Agency says Kim also visited nearby construction sites and complained about sanctions imposed on his country because of its nuclear weapons program

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to surmount US-led sanctions he says have inflicted “many hardships and trials” on his country, state media reported Wednesday, days after his country’s first nuclear negotiations with the US in more than seven months fell apart.
State media also showed Kim riding a white horse to climb North Korea’s sacred Mount Paektu. Kim has often visited the mountain, the highest point on the Korean Peninsula, before making major decisions such as the 2013 execution of his powerful uncle and his 2018 entrance into diplomacy with Seoul and Washington.
South Korean media quickly speculated Kim may be considering a new strategy in his dealings with the US because he’s previously demanded Washington come up with new proposals to salvage the stalemated diplomacy by the end of December.
“He, sitting on the horseback atop Mt Paektu, recollected with deep emotion the road of arduous struggle he covered for the great cause of building the most powerful country with faith and will as firm as Mt Paektu,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.
North Korean documents say Kim’s grandfather and national founder Kim Il Sung had an anti-Japan guerrilla base on the slopes of Paektu during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. The official biography of Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, says the second-generation leader was born on Paektu when a double rainbow filled the skies.
The white horse is also a propaganda symbol for the Kim family who has ruled North Korea for seven decades with a strong personality cult surrounding family members. State media have occasionally shown Kim, his sister and his father riding white horses. The symbolism goes back to Kim Il Sung, who according to the North’s official narrative, rode a white horse while fighting against Japanese colonial rulers.
KCNA said Kim also visited nearby construction sites in Samjiyon County and complained about US-led UN sanctions imposed on his country because of its nuclear and nuclear programs.
“The situation of the country is difficult owing to the ceaseless sanctions and pressure by the hostile forces and there are many hardships and trials facing us,” Kim was quoted as saying. “But our people grew stronger through the trials and found their own way of development and learned how to always win in the face of trials.”
Kim also said “the pain the US-led anti-(North Korea) hostile forces inflicted upon the Korean people ... turned into their anger,” according to KCNA. “No matter what persistent efforts the enemy make, we can live well with our own efforts and pave the avenue to development and prosperity in our own way.”
North Korea has been slapped with a total of 11 rounds of sanctions since 2006. The sanctions have been toughened since 2016 when Kim began conducting a series of high-profile nuclear and missile tests, and they include a full ban on key exports such as coal, textiles and seafood and a significant curtailing of oil imports.
During his second summit with President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February, Kim demanded the United States lift the newer and more biting sanctions in return for dismantling his main nuclear complex, a limited denuclearization step. Trump rejected that, and the summit collapsed without reaching any deal. The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June and agreed to resume talks.
Their nuclear negotiators met in Stockholm for the first time since the Vietnam summit earlier this month but the talks broke down again. North Korea blamed the US for the talks’ breakdown and threatened to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests.
 


Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.

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