Japan searching for North Korean boat crew who fell into sea

The coast guard said it dispatched four patrol vessels and two aircraft after receiving calls reporting a capsized boat. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 16 October 2019

Japan searching for North Korean boat crew who fell into sea

  • Officials say the boat capsized in a rich fishing ground frequented by North Korean poachers
  • Another North Korean boat sank in a recent incident after colliding with a Japanese fishing vessel

TOKYO: The Japanese coast guard was searching for crew members who fell into the sea from a wooden North Korean fishing boat that capsized off Japan’s northwestern coast, officials said Wednesday.
The coast guard said it dispatched four patrol vessels and two aircraft after receiving information of the capsizing earlier Wednesday.
Officials said the incident occurred near an area called Yamatotai, a rich fishing ground that’s also crowded with North Korean poachers.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that a Japanese fisheries inspection ship received a distress call from another North Korean boat. He said the Japanese fisheries and coast guard patrol boats are jointly searching for the missing.
No further details were available, including the number of crew or why the boat capsized. It was not immediately known if the boat was inside Japan’s 200-mile (322-kilometer) exclusive economic zone, where the country has the right to all resources.
Last week, a North Korean boat in the area sank after a collision with a Japanese fisheries boat warning it to leave the Japanese exclusive economic zone. About 60 crew members of the North Korean steel boat were safely rescued by another boat from the North.
Japanese Fishing Agency and coast guard officials said they did not arrest the North Koreans because their boat had sunk and could not obtain proof they were fishing illegaly. The area is too deep to retrieve the sunken ship, officials said.
The government plans to release a video around the time of the collision.
Japan has stepped up sea patrols after noticing more North Korean boats as Pyongyang tries to boost fish harvests.


US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

Updated 07 December 2019

US opens first round of resurrected peace talks with Taliban

  • The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence
  • Permanent cease-fire would be the eventual goal, said a US statement

KABUL: US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held on Saturday the first official talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban since President Donald Trump declared a near-certain peace deal with the insurgents dead in September.
The talks will initially focus on getting a Taliban promise to reduce violence, with a permanent cease-fire being the eventual goal, said a US statement. Khalilzad is also trying to lay the groundwork for negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict.
The meetings being held in the Middle eastern State of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, follow several days of talks in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, where Khalilzad met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
The Taliban have so far refused direct talks with Ghani calling him a US puppet.
Ghani leads the Afghan government with Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in a power-sharing agreement brokered by the United States after the presidential elections in 2014 were so deeply mired in corruption that a clear winner could not be determined.
To head off a conflict Washington stepped in and forced the two leading candidates __ Ghani and Abdullah __ to share power in a so-called Unity Government that has been largely paralyzed because of the relentless bickering between the two leaders.
The Afghan government is now embroiled in a fresh elections standoff. Presidential polls on Sept. 28 again ended in accusations of misconduct and corruption, with no results yet announced.
Repeat leading contender Abdullah has challenged the recounting of several hundred thousand ballots, accusing his opponent Ghani of trying to manipulate the tally.
Meanwhile, Khalilzad’s return to his peace mission followed Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to Afghanistan in which he said talks with the Taliban were back on.
While Khalilzad is talking to the Taliban about reducing violence, the US military in its daily report said overnight on Saturday US airstrikes killed 37 Taliban and operations by the Afghan National Security Forces killed another 22 of the militants.
The insurgents have continued to carry put near daily strikes against military outposts throughout the country. They now hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan.
Trump has expressed frustration with America’s longest war repeatedly saying he wants to bring the estimated 12,000 US soldiers home and calling on Afghanistan’s own police and military to step up. The Afghan government has also been criticized for its relentless corruption.