Tasiilaq, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — Greenland said Friday it's happy President Donald Trump has taken an interest in the nation, talking to aides and allies about buying the island for the U.S., but that it's not for sale.
Following reports that Trump had spoken about the notion of buying Greenland, the semiautonomous Danish territory between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans issued a short statement to clarify it wasn't on the market.
"We see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer," the government said. "Of course, Greenland is not for sale."
Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who served as Danish prime minister until June, weighed in on social media, tweeting "it must be an April Fool's Day joke" and that it was "totally" out of season.
A Trump ally told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Republican president had discussed the purchase but was not serious about it. And a Republican congressional aide said Trump brought up the notion of buying Greenland in conversations with American lawmakers enough times to make them wonder, but they have not taken his comments seriously. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
"Because of the unofficial nature of the news, the government of Greenland has no further comments," Greenland said on its website.
The White House hasn't commented on the reports, but it wouldn't be the first time an American leader tried to buy the world's largest island.
In 1946, the U.S. proposed to pay Denmark $100 million to buy Greenland after flirting with the idea of swapping land in Alaska for strategic parts of the Arctic island.
On Friday, residents in tiny Kulusuk on Greenland's eastern coast seemed less than impressed with the possibility Trump may want to purchase their nation.
They included Jakob Ipsen, who has something in common with the U.S. president: Both run hotels. Ipsen's hotel is smaller than a Trump one and provides hands-on service, such as finding boats and driving guests around.
Ipsen noted there's a history of outsiders unsuccessfully wanting to take over the giant, mostly barren island.
"Never going to happen. They tried in 1867 without luck. They tried after World War II," Ipsen said. "It didn't happen then and it's not going to happen now."
Quetta, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — A powerful bomb exploded inside a mosque during Friday prayers on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta, where the Afghan Taliban have had a strong presence, killing at least four worshippers, including the prayer leader, officials said.
Abdul Ali, a local police chief, said the bomb was planted inside the mosque and was remotely detonated. He said about 20 wounded worshippers were taken to nearby hospitals in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province.
Quetta police chief Abdur Razzaq Cheema said the bomb was planted under the wooden chair of the prayer leader.
It was unclear who was behind the attack but the mosque is located 3 kilometers (2 miles) away from Kuchlak, a stronghold of Taliban insurgents, where Maulvi Hibatullah Akhunzada once lived before becoming the Taliban chief and moving to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.
According to unconfirmed reports, slain prayer leader Maulvi Ahmadullah was a relative or friend of Akhunzada. The Taliban did not confirm or deny the reports.
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, told The Associated Press that he heard a report about the bombing but was not in a position to immediately confirm the details.
The Kuchlak area is a major crossing point for Afghan Taliban members to move between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The insurgency's leadership meets, receives medical treatment or rests in the area. It is also the same area where Akhunzada operated several religious schools before becoming the Taliban chief.
The attack comes as the U.S. seeks to find a peace agreement that will allow American servicemembers to return home, ending Washington's longest war, now into its 18th year.
Pakistani militants have been blamed for previous such attacks in Baluchistan.
Separatist groups also often target security forces in the impoverished province in a bid to get a larger share of provincial resources and wealth or outright autonomy from Islamabad.
Pakistan's government claims it has quelled the insurgency, but violence has continued.
India, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) - Amit Shah, India’s minister for home affairs, announced in Parliament that the Bharatiya Janata Party government was revoking Article 370 of the Indian Constitution in the name of bringing prosperity to the region.
Since 1954, this article has governed federal relations between India and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state.
I’m a scholar of South Asian politics and have written extensively on the evolution of the India-Pakistan conflict in Kashmir.
Article 370 is woven into that history.
History of Kashmir’s autonomy
Article 370 originated in the particular circumstances under which the former prince and last ruler of Kashmir acceded to India shortly after the partition of the British Indian Empire into the independent states of India and Pakistan in 1947.
The prince, or maharaja, agreed to have Kashmir become part of India under duress. His rule was threatened by an insurrection supported by Pakistan.
Article 370 was designed to guarantee the autonomy of the Muslim majority state, the only one in predominantly Hindu India. The clause effectively limited the powers of the Indian government to the realms of defense, foreign affairs and communications. It also permitted the Kashmiri state to have its own flag and constitution.
More controversially, Article 370 prohibited non-Kashmiris from purchasing property in the state and stated that women who married non-Kashmiris would lose their inheritance rights.
Changes over time
But the independence of the Kashmiri state has been declining for decades. Beginning in the early 1950s, a series of presidential ordinances, which had swift effect much like American executive orders, diluted the terms of the article.
For example, in 1954, a presidential order extended Indian citizenship to the “permanent residents” of the state. Prior to this decision the native inhabitants of the state had been considered to be “state subjects.”
Other constitutional changes followed. The jurisdiction of the Indian Supreme Court was expanded to the state in 1954. In addition, the Indian government was granted the authority to declare a national emergency if Kashmir were attacked.
Many other administrative actions reduced the state’s autonomy over time. These have ranged from enabling Kashmiris to participate in national administrative positions to expanding the jurisdiction of anti-corruption bodies, such as the Central Vigilance Commission and the Central Goods and Services Act of 2017, into the state.
What has happened as a result of the move to revoke Article 370?
The decision has been met with considerable unhappiness and resentment in the Kashmir Valley, which has a Muslim population close to 97% – versus 68% of the population of the state as a whole. The government of Jammu and Kashmir, meanwhile, does not have the legal power to challenge the move.
China and Pakistan have expressed displeasure.
Pakistan has long maintained that it should have inherited the state based upon its geographic contiguity and its demography.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir. While I don’t believe Pakistan will initiate another war with India over this issue at this time, I doubt it will quietly resign itself to the changed circumstances. At the very least, it will seek to draw in members of the international community to oppose India’s action, as it has sought to do in the past.
China, which considers Pakistan to be its “all-weather ally,” has stated that the decision was “not acceptable and won’t be binding.”
Berlin, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — A German government spokesman says Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson soon to discuss Brexit and bilateral issues.
Asked about reports of a possible meeting, Steffen Seibert told reporters that "indeed, a meeting is planned in the very near future."
Seibert said it "makes sense" to discuss Brexit, the issue that has dominated Britain's relationship with other European Union countries in recent years.
Johnson wants to renegotiate the agreement his predecessor Theresa May reached with negotiators from the remaining 27 EU countries.
South Korea, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — North Korea on Friday bluntly criticized South Korean President Moon Jae-in for continuing to hold military exercises with the US and over his rosy comments on inter-Korean diplomacy, and said Pyongyang has no current plans to talk with Seoul.
The statement by an unidentified government spokesman came hours before South Korea's military detected two projectiles North Korea fired into the sea to extend a torrid streak of weapons display that's apparently aimed at pressuring Washington and Seoul over their joint drills and slow nuclear negotiations.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles launched from the North's eastern coast flew about 230 kilometers (143 miles) on an apogee of 30 kilometers (18 miles) before landing in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The U.S. and South Korean militaries were analyzing the launches but didn't immediately say whether the weapons were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery.
The North has ignored South Korean calls for dialogue recently and is seen as trying to force Seoul to make stronger efforts to coax major concessions from Washington on its behalf.
Moon, in a televised speech on Thursday, said a momentum for dialogue remains alive despite the series of "worrying actions taken by North Korea recently." He called for Pyongyang to choose "economic prosperity over its nuclear program."
The spokesperson of the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country said Moon's comments would make a "boiled head of a cow (fall into) a side-splitting laughter."
"A sure thing is that the (South) Korean chief executive is (such a) funny man as he just reads what was written by his juniors," the statement said, while avoiding calling Moon by his name.
The statement also criticized South Korea's recent acquisition of advanced U.S.-made fighter jets and said it would be "senseless" for Moon to believe that inter-Korean dialogue will automatically begin after the end of the ongoing U.S.-South Korean drills.
"We have nothing to (talk about) any more with (South) Korean authorities nor have any (plans) to sit with them again," the statement said.
The North had recently said it would talk only with Washington and not Seoul, and that inter-Korean dialogue won't resume unless the South offers a "plausible excuse" on why it keeps hosting military drills with the United States. Seoul's Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, criticized the North Korean statement, saying it wouldn't help efforts to improve relations.
Pyongyang has also been demanding that Seoul turn away from Washington and restart inter-Korean economic projects held back by U.S.-led sanctions against the North.
The United States has so far rejected North Korea's demands for sanctions relief in exchange for piecemeal deals toward partially surrendering its nuclear capabilities and urged Pyongyang to commit to completely relinquishing its nuclear and missile program.
Friday's launches were North Korea's sixth round of tests since late July, when it stepped up its weapons demonstrations while expressing frustration over stalemated nuclear negotiations with the United States as well as the U.S.-South Korean drills that the North sees as an invasion rehearsal.
South Korea's presidential office said national security adviser Chung Eui-yong presided over an emergency National Security Council meeting and Moon was briefed on the launches. The Blue House called for the North to stop launches that risk raising military tensions on the peninsula.
The weapons the North tested in recent weeks included a new rocket artillery system and what security analysts say are two new short-range mobile ballistic missile systems that would potentially expand its ability to strike targets throughout South Korea, including U.S. bases there.
Experts say President Donald Trump's downplaying of the North's launches allowed the country more room to intensify its testing activity and advance its short-range weaponry while it seeks to build leverage ahead of a possible resumption of negotiations, which could happen sometime after the end of the allied drills later this month.
Japan's Defense Ministry said the North Korean projectiles did not reach the country's territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone. The White House said it was aware of reports of the launches and was consulting with Seoul and Tokyo.