Seoul, Oct 16 (AP/UNB) — The rival Koreas and the U.S.-led United Nations Command were meeting Tuesday to discuss efforts to disarm a military zone the rivals control within their shared border under a peace agreement between the Koreas.
South Korea's Defense Ministry said the talks at the Panmunjom border village mark the first meeting between the Koreas and the U.N. Command to discuss ways to demilitarize the village's Joint Security Area.
The Korean militaries in past weeks have been clearing mines from the area following a broad agreement meant to reduce military tensions that was forged between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in their summit last month.
The Koreas plan to withdraw guard posts and firearms from the Joint Security Area once the demining is complete.
Further details from Tuesday's meeting weren't immediately available.
The military agreement between the Koreas also calls for the creation of buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries, a no-fly zone above the border and the removal of 11 front-line guard posts by December.
Moon has said the military agreement is an important trust-building step that will reduce border tension and create diplomatic space without negatively impacting the South's defense readiness.
Some military experts say South Korea is at risk of conceding some of its conventional military strength before the North takes any material steps toward giving up its nuclear weapons program, the goal of global diplomatic efforts.
The Joint Security Area is overseen by the U.N. Command and by North Korea, with South Korean and North Korean border guards facing each other only meters (yards) apart. It is located inside the 4-kilometer-wide (2 1/2-mile-wide) Demilitarized Zone, which is a heavily-fortified zone that has formed the de facto border between the Koreas since the 1950-53 Korean War.
The Joint Security Area has been used for diplomatic engagements but was also a site of occasional bloodshed during the Cold War, including the killing of two American army officers by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers in 1976. It was also where a defecting North Korean soldier fled south last year in a hail of bullets fired by his former comrades.
Seoul, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — The rival Koreas are holding high-level talks Monday to discuss further engagement amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.
South Korea said Monday's talks will be aimed at finding ways to carry out peace agreements announced after the summit last month between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
The meeting between senior officials comes at a sensitive time as Washington has expressed unease over the fast pace in inter-Korean engagement, which it says should move in tandem with U.S.-led efforts to denuclearize the North.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said the discussions will include setting up a joint survey of a North Korean railroad section the Koreas plan to connect with the South. The North's chief delegate to the talks is Ri Son Gwon, who chairs the North Korean agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs.
There could also be discussions over the specifics of a joint military committee agreed between their leaders to evaluate tension-reduction steps and maintain communication to prevent crises and accidental clashes.
"The infinite waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic start out as a gathering of smaller repositories of water," Ri told South Korean reporters as he arrived at the border village of Panmunjom for the meeting. "Likewise, the high-level meeting today will contribute to peace, prosperity and unification (between the countries) that are desired by the entire nation," he said, referring to the people of both Koreas.
In their third summit this year, Moon and Kim committed to reviving economic cooperation when possible, voicing optimism that international sanctions could end and allow such activity, and holding a groundbreaking ceremony by the end of the year on an ambitious project to connect their roads and railways.
The North and South also announced measures to reduce conventional military threats, such as creating buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border, removing 11 front-line guard posts by December, and demining sections of the Demilitarized Zone. The Koreas also said they will make a push to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics.
Moon has described inter-Korean engagement as crucial to resolving the nuclear standoff and is eager to restart joint economic projects held back by sanctions if the larger nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea begin yielding results.
However, South Korea's enthusiasm for engagement with its rival appears to have created discomfort with ally United States amid growing concerns that the North is lagging behind its supposed promise to denuclearize.
Moon's government last week walked back on a proposal to lift some of its unilateral sanctions against North Korea following President Donald Trump's blunt retort that Seoul could "do nothing" without Washington's approval.
South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had expressed displeasure about the Koreas' military agreement. Kang was not specific but her comments fueled speculation Washington wasn't fully on board before Seoul signed the agreement.
Trump has encouraged U.S. allies to maintain sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearizes to maintain a campaign of pressure against Kim's government.
Kathmandu, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — The nine climbers who died during the worst disaster on a Nepal mountain in recent years included the first South Korean to summit all 14 Himalayan peaks over 8,000 meters without using supplemental oxygen.
An official from the South Korea's Corean Alpine Club said the bodies of Kim Chang-ho and four other South Koreans who were killed will arrive in South Korea on Wednesday. Four Nepalese guides also were killed when a storm swept the climbers' base camp on Gurja Himal mountain Friday.
Rescuers had retrieved the climbers' bodies on Sunday after weather cleared. The body of one of the guides was taken to his village, while the eight others were flown to Kathmandu.
"It was the worst mountaineering disaster in Nepal in recent years and an unimaginable one," said Rameshwor Niraula of Nepal's Mountaineering Department, which issues climbing permits and monitors expeditions.
Niraula said officials were still gathering details of what exactly happened but from what rescuers described, the climbers were blown over by the blast of the blizzard-like wind conditions.
One Korean member of the climbing team had become ill and was in a village far below the base camp during the storm.
The CAC official, who didn't want to be named because she wasn't authorized to speak to reporters, identified the other South Korean victims as Yu Yeong-jik, Im Il-jin, Jeong Jun-mo and Lee Jae-hoon.
Yu was reportedly in charge of equipment for Kim's climbing team. Im was a filmmaker who specialized in documentaries of mountain climbers. Yonhap news agency said senior CAC member Jeong wasn't part of Kim's team but was visiting them when the accident happened.
It was the deadliest climbing disaster in Nepal since 2015 when 19 people were killed at Mount Everest base camp by an avalanche triggered by an earthquake that devastated the country. The previous year, an avalanche above Everest's base camp killed 16 Nepalese Sherpa guides.
The Himalayan range includes all 14 of the world's peaks that rise above 8,000 meters, and only a few dozen climbers have made verified, successful ascents of them all. Kim achieved his feat in 2013.
Santa Lama of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, who helped with coordinating the rescue, said since all nine people at the camp were killed and no surviving witnesses it was difficult to say what exactly happened or when.
The climbers were also attempting to scale a 7,193-meter (23,590-foot) peak which is not among the highest, the most difficult or popular mountain to climb in Nepal.
Grieving family members gathered at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Nepal's capital where the bodies were to be autopsied before being handed to their families.
The South Korean ministry told reporters strong winds during the storm blew the victims from their base camp off a steep cliff. Word of the destruction got out Saturday morning, and helicopters were sent. They were not able to land due to the continuing bad weather but spotted the bodies, which were retrieved Sunday.
They were issued permit to climb the peak during the autumn climbing season. Spring and autumn are the optimal climbing seasons in Nepal in between the harsh winter and summer monsoon.
The CAC official said a Korean Air flight carrying the bodies of the climbers will arrive at South Korea's Incheon International Airport early Wednesday.
Yangon, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — Several thousand pro-military and nationalist demonstrators marched through Yangon on Sunday, voicing their support for Myanmar's armed forces and government while condemning foreign involvement in the country's affairs.
The march led to a stage lined with portraits of Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, where speakers addressed a flag-waving crowd and condemned the international community's involvement in Myanmar, claiming groups would "fight back" against international bodies who have called for the investigation and prosecution of the country's top generals.
"We, the people of Myanmar, strongly denounce and condemn any intervention or intrusion by the foreign countries, international communities and various organizations which unrightfully manipulate our nation and our Myanmar armed forces," proclaimed one of the speakers of the event, reading from a prepared statement.
Demonstrators march through the streets during a pro-military rally Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in front of city hall in Yangon, Myanmar
Nationalist monk Wirathu also gave a speech calling for the international community to stay out of Myanmar's national affairs.
"The day the International Criminal Court comes to our country, that's the day R2P (responsibility to protect) comes to our country. That'll be the day that Wirathu picks up a gun," Wirathu said.
A United Nations fact-finding mission reported last month that Myanmar's military systematically killed thousands of Rohingya Muslim civilians, burned hundreds of their villages and engaged in ethnic cleansing and mass rape. It called for top generals to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide.
Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay was unable to be reached for comment Sunday.
New Delhi, Oct 14 (UNB) – Union Minister MJ Akbar, who has been outed by nearly a dozen women as a sexual predator during his days as a newspaper editor, would not resign, reports NDTV citing sources.
The government has nothing to do with the accusations against him and his stepping down may set a bad precedent, sources said.
Mr Akbar, 67, was on an official tour in Nigeria when several women came out with detailed accounts of his alleged sexual misconduct as part of a thread on social media that has snowballed into a #MeToo movement in India.
As he returned to Delhi this morning, he told reporters that "a statement will be given later".
The women who have accused Mr Akbar of sexual harassment in the #MeToo campaign sweeping the nation are mostly journalists who worked with him or appeared for job interviews when he was editor.
The accusations started flowing in after journalist Priya Ramani tweeted on October 8 that Mr Akbar was the man who had harassed her in an incident she shared in an article for Vogue India a year ago, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US triggered the #MeToo movement.
The women who have spoken out against MJ Akbar, as part of the #MeToo movement include Prerna Singh Bindra, Ghazala Wahab, Shutapa Paul, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma, Shuma Raha, Malini Bhupta, Kanika Gahlout, Kadambari M Wade, Majlie de Puy Kamp.
The BJP has not commented on the charges, though individual ministers have supported the movement.
Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi has asked for an investigation against him. Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said "MJ Akbar should resign if the charges are proven".
On Thursday, Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani said, "Anybody who is speaking out should in no way be shamed, victimised or mocked". Asked about Mr Akbar, she said, "I think that it is for the gentleman concerned to issue a statement, not for me as I was not present there".
Several political parties such as the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen have demanded Mr Akbar's removal as minister.