South Korea’s Yoon will warn APEC leaders about the risks of a Russia-North Korea arms deal

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a speech during a news conference to mark his first 100 days in office at the presidential office in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (AP)
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol delivers a speech during a news conference to mark his first 100 days in office at the presidential office in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 14 November 2023
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South Korea’s Yoon will warn APEC leaders about the risks of a Russia-North Korea arms deal

South Korea’s Yoon will warn APEC leaders about the risks of a Russia-North Korea arms deal
  • There are concerns that Russia’s protracted war on Ukraine and the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas are adding to complexities and uncertainties over the security situation on the Korean Peninsula

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol slammed the purported illicit arms deal between North Korea and Russia, saying he’ll emphasize its far-reaching security implications and discuss international response during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco this week.
In written responses to questions from The Associated Press ahead of the APEC meeting, Yoon also said that North Korean provocations will invite immediate retaliation by South Korean and US forces. There are concerns that North Korea might miscalculate and make a move against the South while the world is focused on the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.
“An effective way to prevent North Korea from miscalculating is to demonstrate our robust deterrence capabilities and determination toward North Korea based on the solid (South Korea) -US joint defense posture,” Yoon said.
“North Korea’s provocations will not only fail to achieve its intended goal but also result in immediate and strong retaliation from (South Korea)-US alliance,” he said.
There are concerns that Russia’s protracted war on Ukraine and the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas are adding to complexities and uncertainties over the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.
Some experts say North Korea’s reported pursuit of sophisticated Russian weapons technologies in return for its supply of conventional arms for Russia’s war in Ukraine could help the North modernize its nuclear-capable missiles targeting South Korea and the US The experts also worry that Washington’s preoccupation with Ukraine and Israel might prompt North Korea to conclude that the US security posture on the Korean Peninsula has weakened and launch surprise attacks or other provocations against South Korea.
Since taking office in May last year, Yoon, a conservative, has made a reinforced military partnership with the US the center of his foreign policy in response to North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats. Since his inauguration, Yoon said that North Korea has test-launched a total of 87 ballistic missiles.
Despite this, many foreign analysts assess North Korea still doesn’t possess functioning nuclear-tipped missiles. But they say that Russian support could help North Korea overcome the last remaining technological hurdles to acquire such weapons.
Both North Korea and Russia have dismissed as groundless the speculated weapons transfer deal, which would violate UN Security Council resolutions that ban any arms trade to and from North Korea.
“These two countries’ military cooperation ... not only poses a serious threat to the security of the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and Europe but also undermines the universal rules-based international order,” Yoon said.
At meetings with many world leaders during the 21-member APEC meeting, Yoon said he’ll underscore such diverse security threats posed by the “illegal” North Korean-Russian cooperation and discuss ways to strengthen cooperation.
One area where North Korea is believed to be receiving Russian technological assistance is a spy satellite launch program. After two consecutive failures to put its first military spy satellite into orbit in recent months, North Korea vowed to make a third launch attempt in October. But it didn’t follow through. South Korean officials suspect it that was likely because North Korea has begun receiving Russian help.
Yoon said the main objective of North Korea’s spy satellite launch, which involves a rocket, is to advance its nuclear delivery vehicle. He cited UN bans on any satellite launches by North Korea, because the world body views them as cover for testing its long-range missile technology. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un previously said he needed a spaced-based surveillance system to better monitor South Korean and US activities and enhance the attack capability of his nuclear missiles.
“If North Korea succeeds in launching the military reconnaissance satellite, it would signify that North Korea’s ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) capabilities have been taken to a higher level,” Yoon said. “Therefore, we will have to come up with reinforced countermeasures.”
Yoon said the recent Seoul visits by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin serve as an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of the South Korea-US alliance. Observers say such back-to-back visits by top US officials suggest the US security commitment remains strong despite the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.
Blinken told reporters in Seoul last week that he and his South Korean counterpart, Park Jin, discussed unspecified further actions the two countries can take with others to put more pressures on Russia not to transfer military technology to North Korea. Austin said Monday that the US deterrence commitment to South Korea remains ironclad and includes a full range of America’s nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities.
“By building upon the ironclad (South Korea)-US alliance, the Korean government is acquiring overwhelming response capabilities and a retaliation posture to establish a strong security stance,” Yoon said.
Yoon said that current global challenges — arising from the war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict, the climate crisis and high inflation – offer an opportunity for APEC to demonstrate its leadership again by spearheading efforts to overcome crises and to spur innovation through regional cooperation.
“I will urge the member economies to work together in the spirit of stronger solidarity and cooperation to advance trade and investment liberalization, innovation and digitalization as well as inclusive and sustainable growth,” he said.
Yoon said the wars in Ukraine and the Middle East have left energy security vulnerable. He said the global economy is becoming further fragmented by the weaponization of economic resources, and that supply chain risks pose the biggest obstacle to regional economic development.
“The Asia-Pacific region must endeavor to become a free space where people, money and data as well as goods and services flow without disruption,” Yoon said.
He also stressed the need to establish new norms for digital ethics that match the era of hyper digitalization.
“Since digital technology knows no borders and has connectivity and immediacy, it is necessary to establish universal norms that can be applied to everyone in the international community,” he said.
 

 


Six killed in Sydney shopping center attack

People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney, Saturday, April 13, 2024.
People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney, Saturday, April 13, 2024.
Updated 13 April 2024
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Six killed in Sydney shopping center attack

People are led out from the Westfield Shopping Centre where multiple people were stabbed in Sydney, Saturday, April 13, 2024.
  • Multiple people were stabbed by the unidentified assailant, who was shot dead by a policewoman at the scene

SYDNEY: Six people were killed and several others injured — including a nine-month-old baby — when a knife-wielding attacker rampaged through a busy Sydney shopping center on Saturday.
Australian police said multiple people were stabbed by the unidentified assailant, who was tracked down and shot dead by a policewoman who is being hailed as a national hero.
The incident occurred at the sprawling Westfield Bondi Junction mall complex, which was packed with thousands of Saturday afternoon shoppers.
New South Wales police commissioner Karen Webb said five women and one man had died. A baby was undergoing emergency surgery.
Police said the attacker is believed to be a 40-year-old man who was known to law enforcement, but he has not yet been formally identified.
Webb played down suggestions that the attack could have been an act of terrorism and said it is believed the attacker acted alone.
“If it is in fact the person we believe it is, then... it’s not a terrorism incident,” she said.
A New South Wales Ambulance spokesperson told AFP that eight patients were taken to various hospitals across Sydney, including the baby who was taken to the city’s Children’s Hospital.
“They all have traumatic injuries,” the official said.
Security camera footage showed a man wearing an Australian rugby league jersey running around the shopping center with a large knife.
Injured people lay lifeless on the floor, or surrounded by pools of blood.
Eyewitnesses described a scene of panic, with shoppers scrambling to safety and police trying to secure the area.
Many people took shelter in shops, trying to protect themselves, their families and frightened strangers.
Ayush Singh was working at a cafe inside the center when the incident occurred.
“I saw the whole thing in front of me,” he told AFP. “I saw a lot of people running around, I saw the guy running with the knife and people running away.”
Singh helped two elderly ladies who were having a coffee to hide inside his cafe. He heard three gunshots ring out, then saw the man lying on the ground.
“It was really scary,” he said. “I’ve felt really safe (in Australia). I’ve been here for six years. I didn’t feel unsafe but now I feel scared.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese praised the bravery of strangers who helped each other and the woman police inspector who rushed headlong toward danger.
“She is certainly a hero. There is no doubt that she saved lives through her action,” Albanese said.

Pranjul Bokaria had just finished up work and was doing some shopping when the stabbing occurred.
She ended up running to a nearby shop and taking shelter in a break room.
“It was scary, there are some people who were emotionally vulnerable and crying,” she told AFP.
She escaped using an emergency exit with other shoppers and staff, which took them to a back street.
She described a scene of “chaos,” with people running and police swarming the area.
“I am alive and grateful,” she said.
As night fell, dozens of heavily armed police and ambulances were still outside the shopping complex, with stretchers ready to take people to nearby hospitals.
The sound of police sirens and helicopters filled the air.
The mall has been locked down and police have urged people to avoid the area.
Britain’s King Charles III said he and his wife Queen Camilla were “utterly shocked and horrified” by the stabbing.
Pope Francis said he was “deeply saddened” by the attack and sent his “spiritual solidarity to all those affected” in a message addressed to the archbishop of Sydney.
Such attacks are virtually unheard of in Australia, which has relatively low rates of violent crime.
 

 


Rwandan expelled from US given life genocide term

Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
Updated 13 April 2024
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Rwandan expelled from US given life genocide term

Beatrice Munyenyezi is escorted by police officers at a court in Kigali, Rwanda. (AFP file photo)
  • The sentencing came days after Rwanda marked 30 years since the genocide carried out by the extremist Hutu regime between April and July 1994, which left more than 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, according to a UN tally

KIGALI: A Rwandan woman expelled to her homeland three years ago from the US has been given a life sentence for her role in the country’s 1994 genocide, The New Times newspaper reported on Saturday.
A court in the southern town of Huye found Beatrice Munyenyezi guilty of the charges of murder as a genocide crime, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide, and complicity in rape.
However, she was acquitted on a charge of planning genocide, the Rwandan-based national paper said.
The sentencing came days after Rwanda marked 30 years since the genocide carried out by the extremist Hutu regime between April and July 1994, which left more than 800,000 people dead, mostly Tutsi but also moderate Hutus, according to a UN tally.

FASTFACT

Beatrice Munyenyezi was deported in April 2021 from the US after serving a 10-year prison sentence there for lying about her involvement in the genocide as she set about obtaining American citizenship.

Munyenyezi, 54, denied all the charges against her.
But the court concluded she was guilty of ordering and committing murders and attacks herself, including that of a nun who was raped on her orders.
Nicknamed the “commander,” the investigation and several witness accounts said that Munyenyezi was supervising a roadblock in Huye — then called Butare — where she identified Tutsis and had them killed, and also encouraged Hutu extremists to rape women.
She was deported in April 2021 from the US after serving a 10-year prison sentence there for lying about her involvement in the genocide as she set about obtaining American citizenship, saying she faced persecution in her own country.
The case attracted US attention as her mother-in-law Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former minister in the genocidal regime, and her husband Arsene Shalom Ntahobali, a former local militia leader, were also on trial for genocide crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.
They were also sentenced to life in prison, in 2011, before their terms were reduced to 47 years on appeal.

 


Somalia refuses to accept Ethiopian naval base in breakaway region

Somalia refuses to accept Ethiopian naval base in breakaway region
Updated 13 April 2024
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Somalia refuses to accept Ethiopian naval base in breakaway region

Somalia refuses to accept Ethiopian naval base in breakaway region
  • Somalia called the deal illegal as it considers Somaliland part of its territory even though it has had effective autonomy since 1991

NAIROBI: Somalia will never accept Ethiopia’s plan to build a naval base in its breakaway region of Somaliland but would consider granting Ethiopia commercial port access if discussed bilaterally, a senior Somali official said.
Landlocked Ethiopia sparked a diplomatic row with Mogadishu in January by signing a deal with Somaliland to lease 20 km of its coastline in return for recognizing the region as an independent state.
Somalia called the deal illegal as it considers Somaliland part of its territory even though it has had effective autonomy since 1991.

BACKGROUND

Landlocked Ethiopia sparked a diplomatic row with Mogadishu in January by signing a deal with Somaliland to lease 20 km of its coastline in return for recognizing the region as an independent state.

To defuse the acrimony, Kenya, in consultation with Djibouti and the Eastern African Bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, has proposed a maritime treaty to govern how landlocked states in the region can access ports on commercial terms, a senior Kenyan official said on Thursday.
Somalia’s state minister for foreign affairs, Ali Omar, said that before discussing port access bilaterally, Ethiopia must annul its agreement with Somaliland.
“Somalia will never accept (a) naval base,” Omar said.
“Somalia is ready for commercial access in accordance with the international law of the sea.”
He added that Somalia was willing to discuss proposals as long as they met the country’s interests, which are to “safeguard (our) sovereignty, political independence and unity.”
A spokesperson for Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

 


Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions

Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions
Updated 13 April 2024
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Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions

Biden is cutting short a beach weekend to meet with his national security team amid Mideast tensions
  • Soon after the White House announced the change of plans, the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart
  • Amid the Israel-Hamas war, tensions have escalated since a suspected Israeli strike this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria

DELAWARE, USA: President Joe Biden is cutting short a weekend stay at his Delaware beach house and returning to the White House on Saturday to meet with his national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East.
Soon after the White House announced the change of plans, the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with his Israeli counterpart “to discuss urgent regional threats ... and made clear that Israel could count on full US support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies.
Amid the Israel-Hamas war, tensions have escalated since a suspected Israeli strike this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria killed 12 people, including senior Iranian generals. Israel is bracing for a possible Iranian attack, raising concerns about the United States being pulled into deeper regional conflict.
Biden on Friday said the United States was “devoted” to defending Israel and that “Iran will not succeed.”
Asked by reporters what his message was for Iran, the president’s only reply was: “Don’t.”
He ignored a question about what would trigger a direct US military response, and when asked how imminent an Iranian attack on Israel was, Biden said he did not want to get into secure information, “but my expectation is sooner than later.”
During the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, there have been near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group along the Israel-Lebanon border. US officials have recorded more than 150 attacks by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria on US forces at bases in those countries since war started on Oct. 7.
One attack in late January killed three US service members in Jordan. In retaliation, the US launched a massive air assault, hitting more than 85 targets at seven locations in Iraq and Syria.
Meantime, on Saturday, commandos from Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard rappelled from a helicopter onto an Israeli-affiliated container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel.
National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the US strongly condemned the seizure and urged Iran to release the ship and crew immediately.
“We will work with our partners to hold Iran to account for its actions,” she said.
Also Saturday, the Israeli-occupied West Bank also saw some of the worst violence since Hamas’ attack on Israel.


Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says

Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says
Updated 13 April 2024
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Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says

Germany to send new Patriot air defense system to Kyiv at ‘critical time’, Zelensky says
  • “I am grateful to the chancellor for the decision to supply another, additional Patriot system to Ukraine,” Zelensky said
  • He described their conversation as “important, productive” and said: “I call on all other leaders of partner states to follow this example“

KYIV: Germany will supply a US-made Patriot air defense system and air defense missiles to Ukraine at a “critical time” as Kyiv struggles to defend its energy system from Russian bombardment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday.
More than two years into its full-scale invasion, Russia has staged three massive airstrikes on power stations and substations in recent weeks, prompting Kyiv to issue desperate appeals for supplies of high-end air defenses.
“I am grateful to the chancellor for the decision to supply another, additional Patriot system to Ukraine, as well as missiles for the existing air defense systems,” Zelensky said after speaking by telephone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
He described their conversation as “important, productive” and said: “I call on all other leaders of partner states to follow this example.”
Germany will hand over the Patriot system immediately and it will be in addition to air defense systems that were already delivered and planned, the defense ministry said in a post on X.
An April 10 German government summary of arms and military equipment transfers to Ukraine included two Patriot systems on a list of air defense supplies already delivered, making this the third from Germany.
Zelensky said last week that Ukraine needed 25 US-made Patriot air defense systems to cover the country from Russian attacks.
In his statement on the Telegram app on Saturday, the Ukrainian leader said he and Scholz also discussed preparations for a reconstruction conference in Berlin and a peace summit in Switzerland in June.