Dhaka, Sept 29 (UNB) – Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor on Saturday appreciated China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) saying it has provided an opportunity to realise sustainable development and common prosperity of the two countries.
“We consider China as a time-tested friend. Bangladesh deeply values its relations with China, and China remains our development partner to realise our development vision,” he said.
Minister Noor made the remark while addressing a reception marking the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China at the Chinese Embassy here. Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka Zhang Zuo also spoke on the occasion.
The Cultural Affairs Minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamt of building ‘Sonar Bangla’ and a prosperous country free from hunger, poverty and deprivation.
“Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we’re working to fulfill Bangabandhu’s dream,” he said.
The minister said the relations between Bangladesh and China have been elevated to strategic partnership of cooperation following historic visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016.
Terming Bangladesh-China relations multifaceted ones, he highlighted the bilateral relations in the areas of trade, commerce, investment, tourism, human resources, connectivity, health, education and cultural exchange.
Chinese Ambassador Zhang Zuo said they would like to maintain friendship with the people of Bangladesh for generations to come.
He said they are ready to give Bangladesh a higher priority in China’s diplomacy in order to become great partners of win-win cooperation, great friends with openness and inclusiveness, close brothers for opening up and innovations, and good neighbours who learn from each other.
The diplomat said all the countries are welcome to join the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative with China to expand the scope for practical and friendly collaborations.
He said Bangladesh and China have always remained good friends during the 43 years of the diplomatic relations.
“Especially, after the successful state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in October 2016, the China-Bangladesh relationship got elevated to a Strategic Partnership of Cooperation, and thus started a new chapter in our bilateral relations,” Zuo said.
Under the wise leadership of the government of Bangladesh, he said, the diligent Bangladeshi people have made great achievements in national construction and social development.
“Bangladesh and China share close people-to-people bond, similar national realities, and complementary development goals,” said the Chinese Ambassador.
Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, leaders of different political parties, diplomats, editors and senior journalists were present.
United Nations, Sept 29 (AP/UNB) — North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho says his nation will never disarm its nuclear weapons first if it can't trust Washington.
Ri was speaking Saturday at the United Nations General Assembly. He called on the United States to follow through on promises made during a summit in Singapore between the rivals' leaders.
His comments come as US. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to be on the verge of restarting deadlocked nuclear diplomacy more than three months after Singapore with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.
Ri says it's a "pipe dream" that continued sanctions and U.S. objection to a declaration ending the Korean War will ever bring the North to its knees.
Washington is wary of agreeing to the declaration without Pyongyang first making significant disarmament moves.
Both Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump want a second summit. But there is widespread skepticism that Pyongyang is serious about renouncing an arsenal that the country likely sees as the only way to guarantee its safety.
Pompeo is planning to visit Pyongyang next month to prepare for a second Kim-Trump summit.
Syria's foreign minister is demanding the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Syria who are there in the country "illegally."
He cites U.S., French and Turkish troops who are in Syria without invitation from the Syrian government.
He says the Syrian government considers them "occupation forces and will be dealt with accordingly."
The United States has around 2,000 troops in northern Syria, working with local forces against Islamic State militants in the country.
Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem says a committee tasked with drafting a new constitution will not accept outside dictates.
He says anything seen as intervention in Syria's internal affairs is rejected.
He spoke on Saturday, a few days after the United States and six other nations called for the United Nations to convene a committee to begin drafting a new constitution for Syria and promote a political transition in the war-ravaged country.
"Any conditions or pre-conclusions on the work of the committee will not be accepted," Muallem says.
The U.N.-led effort to bring Syria's warring factions together to draft a new constitution under which elections would be held has been stalled for years.
Syria's foreign minister is telling world leaders that his country's "battle against terrorism is almost over."
Walid al-Moallem also vowed Saturday at the U.N. General Assembly that the Syrian government will free the country from all "illegitimate" foreign troops. And he called on all refugees to return home, saying that is a priority for Damascus.
Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have retaken most of the territory rebels seized during the war that has killed over 400,000 people and driven millions from their homes.
The deadly Indonesian tsunami is on the minds of some world leaders as they address the U.N. General Assembly less than a day later.
Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj expressed condolences to Indonesia during her speech Saturday. She promised that "India will cooperate in helping during this tragic time."
The tsunami swept away buildings and killed at least several hundred people on the central Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 384 people were killed in the hard-hit city of Palu alone.
The nearby city of Donggala and the town of Mamuju were also ravaged by the magnitude 7.5 earthquake and tsunami. But aid had not reached those communities, due to damaged roads and disrupted telecommunications.
Two of the planet's most troubled hot spots are sending envoys to have their say before the world.
North Korea and Syria are places of international concern that spill trouble beyond national borders, and are to appear before the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, at a time when both countries could be on the cusp of significant developments.
U.S. President Donald Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, are trying to regain momentum more than three months after the Singapore summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. They are pushing for a second meeting in their quest to get Pyongyang to renounce its nuclear ambitions.
Syria could be on the verge of emerging from seven years of bloody conflict that included the use of chemical weapons.
Syria's foreign minister will take the podium with his government firmly in control of most of the territory the opposition held for many of the seven years of the conflict.
United Nations, Sep 29 (AP/UNB) — Myanmar is defending itself against a United Nations report released in August which accused the Southeast Asian country of committing genocide against the Rohingya.
In a speech at the U.N. General Assembly Friday, Kyaw Tint Swe, the country's union minister for the state counsellor, said the report was "based on narratives and not hard evidence."
The official accused Bangladesh, which is hosting over a million Rohingya refugees, of failing to repatriate them to Myanmar based on three agreements the countries have signed.
Bangladeshi President Sheikh Hasina had accused Myanmar Thursday at her U.N. speech of failing to honor a verbal commitment to take back Rohingya Muslims who have fled a crackdown she described as tantamount to genocide.
Cambodia's longtime prime minister has taken aim at unilateralism and "protectionist policy," saying they cause problems in the attempts to cultivate healthy economies and relations.
Hun Sen's comments seemed aimed at the United States, which has recently taken both positions publicly and imposed tough tariffs on China — and slapped some sanctions on Cambodia as well.
Hun Sen says adherence to protectionist policy and unilateralism means nations are "closing the door" by not welcoming trade and investment. In his words, "Eventually, we are all poorer."
He also says bigger countries shouldn't try to bully smaller ones, which he says "also possess sovereignty."
Hun Sen's ruling party hailed itself for winning an election in July. The opposition party, unable to contest the polls, said they marked the death of democracy in the Southeast Asian nation. The United States at that time lamented what it called "flawed elections."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow has started delivering S-300 air defense systems to Syria's government.
Russia announced earlier this week that it would supply the anti-aircraft missiles after Syrian forces responding to an Israeli airstrike on Sept. 17 mistakenly shot down a Russian military reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 people on board.
The friendly fire incident sparked regional tensions. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin to express sorrow at the loss of life and sent a high-level military delegation to Moscow.
Lavrov was asked about the S-300s at a news conference Friday and responded: "The deliveries started already."
He added that "the measures we will take will be devoted to ensure 100 percent safety and security of our men in Syria, and we will do this."
Russia's foreign minister is saying that U.S-Russia relations "are bad and probably at their all-time low."
Sergey Lavrov said at a news conference Friday it is apparent that those who have to implement agreements reached at "constructive" meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin "are in no hurry to do that."
Lavrov also said U.S.-Russian working groups on counter-terrorism and cyber-security are on hold as is a critical dialogue on strategic stability.
Lavrov made the remarks hours after addressing world leaders at the United Nation's annual General Assembly. Lavrov used Russia's speech to vigorously defend multilateral organizations like the United Nations and warn against unilateral moves by the U.S. or other countries.
Iraq's top diplomat has thanked the international community and the United Nations for its help in fighting the Islamic State over the past four years.
Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari expressed gratitude and said Iraqis "will never forget those who stood shoulder to shoulder with them at this bloody and dark hour."
He outlined in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly how his nation is moving forward after years of war and disarray, including strengthening state institutions, encouraging participation in governance and "joining the club of democratic nations."
In his words, "This is a new era in Iraq's story."
The lawyer representing two Reuters journalists imprisoned in Myanmar for what critics say was merely doing their jobs is urging the government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to undo "a miscarriage of justice" by immediately pardoning them.
Human rights attorney Amal Clooney noted to an audience at the United Nations that Suu Kyi was a victim of wrongful imprisonment and said history will judge her on whether she grants the request for a pardon by the families of reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. They were sentenced to seven years in prison.
Clooney says the request for a pardon isn't an admission of guilt and is calling for Myanmar's government to admit that no crime was committed.
Critics say the Reuters reporters were imprisoned because the government wanted to prevent the news agency from publishing their story on the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys.
About 700,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh amid a brutal military campaign in Myanmar. Myanmar's army is accused of mass rape, killings and setting fire to thousands of homes in the aftermath of an August 2017 attack by Rohingya militants on security outposts
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says the crisis in multilateral diplomacy can be resolved, citing his own country's history following the defeat of Nazism.
Maas told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that "our European neighbors' courage in seeking reconciliation" and the help of the United States put a scarred continent on a path to freedom, security and prosperity after World War II.
In an unspoken reference to U.S. President Donald Trump's "America first" policy, Maas said, "Multilateralism and sovereignty are not a contradiction in terms."
He added that "in a world faced with immense global problems, we can only safeguard sovereignty if we work together" on issues such as climate change and the conflict in Syria.
Maas also called for international rules to keep pace with technological developments such as the emergence of "killer robots" that are capable of operating without human oversight. He urged leaders to support German efforts "to ban fully autonomous weapons, before it's too late."
The prime minister of Fiji says his nation is losing patience with world leaders who voice concern over climate change "and then do little or nothing" to reduce their nations' greenhouse gas emissions.
Voreqe Bainimarama told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the world risks missing its target of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) as set out in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Bainimarama said that "leaders who ignore this threat and give their people new coal-fired power plants instead of a better future for their children are either tragically shortsighted or simply engaging in a most cynical form of betrayal."
He called for leaders to show greater ambitious to stop climate change when they gather for a climate summit in Katowice, Poland, in December
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will do "everything possible" to preserve the 2015 accord on curbing curb Iran's nuclear program despite the U.S. withdrawal.
Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, Lavrov denounced U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the deal and called it part of a dangerous trend of unilateral measure that risk damaging the post-World War II global order.
He called the U.S. move a violation of U.N. resolutions and a threat to stability in the Mideast.
Lavrov met this week with Iran's foreign minister and other signatories to the 2015 deal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is denouncing what he says are "baseless accusations" of Russian interference in foreign affairs and lashing out at U.S. policies in Iran, Syria and Venezuela.
Lavrov used Russia's speech at the annual U.N. General Assembly to vigorously defend multilateral organizations like the United Nations and warn against unilateral moves by the U.S. or other countries.
Lavrov accused unnamed forces of "endeavors to undermine democratically elected governments," in an apparent reference to U.S. and EU support for Russia's neighbors and the Syrian opposition.
Russia has denied widespread evidence tying it to meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, a nerve agent attack in Britain and other actions abroad.
Greece is using its address to world leaders to chastise some European neighbors for turning their backs on migrants who continue to pour into Europe by land and by sea.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says Friday that Greece is dealing with the highest refugee flows since World War II and notes that Greeks have "opened their arms to incoming migrants, showing the world what solidarity means."
He says Greeks did not "give in to nationalistic and xenophobic voices that called for pushbacks in the sea or a superficial asylum process aimed at rejecting everyone."
Most migrants land in Italy and Greece and those countries feel abandoned by their EU partners. Member states like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are unwilling to share the burden and refuse to accept refugee quotas.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is criticizing growing political, economic and social turmoil around the world, saying the situation has only worsened since the start of the century.
The 93-year-old Mahathir told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that when he last spoke to the forum in 2003, shortly before retiring, "I lamented how the world had lost its way."
Mahathir returned to politics this year and says that "if at all, the world is far worse than 15 years ago."
He cites the trade fight between China and the United States, saying that "the rest of the world is feeling the pain."
And he criticizes the government of Myanmar for its treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority and accuses the rest of the world of failing to act.
Mahathir asked fellow leaders: "Nations are independent, but does this mean that they have a right to massacre their own people?"
The U.N.'s deputy humanitarian chief says Myanmar hasn't "substantively and concretely" addressed the issues that led more than 725,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee, and therefore conditions aren't right for their repatriation from Bangladesh.
Ursula Mueller told a high-level event at the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial meeting Thursday that the government "must take real steps forward, clearly demonstrating a commitment to immediate change on the ground."
In her speech, circulated Friday, Mueller said the Rohingya are now "the world's largest stateless population." She urged donors to respond to the refugee crisis, stressing that the appeal for Bangladesh is only 38 percent funded.
Mueller also urged Myanmar's government to dismantle segregated facilities for the roughly 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar and end the marginalization and "deplorable conditions" many are forced to live in.
China's foreign minister says "now is a crucial time" for the implementation of a deal with Iran to prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Wang Yi told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the 2015 deal was endorsed at the time by the global body's powerful Security Council.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has since yanked its support for the deal and is re-imposing sanctions on Tehran.
The agreement is still supported by China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, and Wang says it "serves the common interests of all parties concerned and the international community at large."
He warns that if the deal isn't implemented, "the international nuclear non-proliferation regime will be undermined" and the authority of the Security Council will be challenged.
Wang is calling for talks to resolve the issue "through dialogue and consultation."
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says his country encourages North Korea "to continue moving along the right direction toward denuclearization."
Wang said Friday the issue on the Korean peninsula "has seen a major turnaround thanks to the efforts of all parties concerned."
He told the U.N. Security Council that China has worked to contribute its part to improve relations between North Korea and South Korea, as well as efforts to facilitate dialogue between Pyongyang and the United States.
Wang said and "effective settlement of the issue requires complete denuclearization as well the establishment of a peace mechanism."
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi says relations between nations should be "based on credibility, not on willful revocation of commitment" as his country and the United State remain locked in a dispute over trade.
Wang told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that China spent more than a decade negotiating its membership of the global trading system and has "fulfilled its promises and integrated itself into the world financial system."
He stressed Beijing's commitment to multilateralism, adding that "unilateral moves will bring damage to all", a reference to resolving disputes within the framework of the World Trade Organization.
Wang criticized the imposition of tariffs and insisted that "China will not be blackmailed or yield to pressure."
Two of Macedonia's closest neighbors are welcoming the country's upcoming referendum on changing its name.
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told the U.N. General Assembly on Friday that the agreement between Greece and Macedonia to resolve their long-standing dispute over the name is an example of a "new spirit" between countries in the region.
Greece objects to Macedonia's current name, saying it implies a claim to territory in the Greek province with that name and to the heritage of the birthplace of revered ancient warrior Alexander the Great.
Albania's President Ilir Meta likewise welcomed the agreement in his speech to world leaders Friday, contrasting with Macedonia's own president, who told the assembly a day earlier that voters should abstain from Sunday's referendum on renaming the country "North Macedonia."
Civil war-torn South Sudan is calling on the international community, "including those who are skeptical, to give peace a chance" as the latest agreement to end the conflict moves forward.
First Vice President Taban Deng Gai told the U.N. gathering of world leaders Friday that the East African country is on schedule to hold "free and fair" general elections after a 36-month transition period under the new agreement.
The United States and others are wary of this latest deal, which returns rebel leader Riek Machar as President Salva Kiir's deputy. Fighting between their supporters sparked the civil war in late 2013.
A new report this week gave a striking new estimate of the conflict's toll: 382,900 deaths, with roughly half blamed on violence and many others on disease.
"As brothers and sisters we have hurt each other," the first vice president told the U.N.
Moscow is expected to use its address to world leaders to enshrine Russia as a counterweight to U.S. influence in areas from the Mideast to Venezuela and the Korean peninsula.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has held a flurry of bilateral meetings at the United Nations this week and has loudly defended Russia's strategies in meetings at the Security Council.
Syria has been Russia's running theme, as Moscow seeks to manage the end of the civil war and ensure a long-term foothold in the region.
Russia is Syrian President Bashar Assad's longtime patron and wants Western financing for Syria's reconstruction while maintaining the upper hand in discussions on Syria's political future.
The two countries that the United States has accused of interfering with its elections are taking take their turns at the podium at the United Nations' annual gathering of world leaders.
Major powers China and Russia — neither of which sent their most senior leader to the U.N. General Assembly — will put forth their foreign ministers to tell their stories.
The accusations against China came this week from U.S. President Donald Trump, who said he has evidence but so far has not released any. In contrast, Russia has been the focus of a special counsel investigation, which Trump has lambasted as a political "witch hunt."
Port Dickson, Sept 29 (AP/UNB) — Malaysia's prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim on Saturday kicked off his campaign for a by-election in coming weeks but faces a multi-cornered fight in his bid to return to active politics.
The by-election followed the resignation of a lawmaker to make way for Anwar's comeback. Escorted by scores of supporters including some cabinet ministers, Anwar submitted his nomination papers at the town hall in the southern coastal town of Port Dickson.
He faces six other candidates including a former aide who had accused Anwar of sodomizing him a decade ago, leading to Anwar's conviction in 2015. Anwar, who has said his conviction was politically motivated, was freed and pardoned by the king shortly after his alliance won a stunning electoral victory in May that led to the first change of power since independence.
"This is a sure win for Anwar. Port Dickson voters will want a heavyweight to represent them," said James Chin, head of Asia Institute in Australia's University of Tasmania.
Anwar, 71, who earlier shook hands with Saiful in the hall, told local media he wasn't bothered with Saiful contending and that he would focus on convincing the 75,770 voters in Port Dickson to win the Oct. 13 poll.
Saiful, 33, reportedly said he would not raise the sodomy case in his campaigning as he wants to move forward and see more young leaders in the political arena. Other candidates include a former chief minister and a military veteran.
Anwar is the designated successor to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, currently the world's oldest leader at 93.
Anwar was once a high-flyer in the former ruling coalition but was convicted of homosexual sodomy and corruption after a power struggle in 1998 with Mahathir, who was prime minister for 22 years until 2003. Anwar was freed in 2004 and convicted again in 2015 of sodomy, which he said was concocted to destroy his political career.
Anwar worked from his prison cell to forge a new opposition alliance by ending his two-decade feud with Mahathir, a gamble that paid off when their alliance won national elections in May.
Mahathir has said he expects to be in office for at least two years and will keep his promise to hand over power to Anwar.
Anwar, who has reiterated his support for Mahathir, has said he was not in a rush to take over the top job and will focus on parliamentary reforms when he returns as a lawmaker.
Wellington, Sept 29 (AP/UNB) — The airline operating a flight that crashed into a Pacific lagoon on Friday in Micronesia now says one man is missing, after earlier saying all 47 passengers and crew had safely evacuated the sinking plane.
Air Niugini said in a release that as of Saturday afternoon, it was unable to account for a male passenger. The airline said it was working with local authorities, hospitals and investigators to try to find the man.
The airline did not immediately respond to requests for more details about the passenger, such as his age or nationality.
Local boats helped rescue the other passengers and crew after the plane hit the water while trying to land at the Chuuk Island airport.
Officials said on Friday that seven people had been taken to a hospital. The airline said six passengers remained at the hospital Saturday, and all of them were in stable condition.
What caused the crash and the exact sequence of events remains unclear. The airline and the U.S. Navy both said the plane landed in the lagoon short of the runway. Some witnesses thought the plane overshot the runway.
Passenger Bill Jaynes said the plane came in very low.
"I thought we landed hard," he said. "Until I looked over and saw a hole in the side of the plane and water was coming in. And I thought, well, this is not the way it's supposed to happen."
Jaynes said he and others managed to wade through waist-deep water to the emergency exits on the sinking plane. He said the flight attendants were panicking and yelling, and that he suffered a minor head injury.
"I was really impressed with the locals who immediately started coming out in boats," Jaynes said in an interview with a missionary in Chuuk, Matthew Colson, that was posted online and shared with the AP.
The U.S. Navy said sailors working nearby on improving a wharf also helped in the rescue by using an inflatable boat to shuttle people ashore before the plane sank in about 30 meters (100 feet) of water.
Air Niugini is the national airline of Papua New Guinea and has operated since 1973. Data from the Aviation Safety Network indicates 111 people have died in crashes of PNG-registered airlines in the past two decades but none involved Air Niugini.