Seoul, OCT 16 (AP/UNB) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to surmount U.S.-led sanctions on his country in state media reports Wednesday alongside evocative propaganda images of him riding a white horse seen as foretelling significant decisions before his own deadline for U.S. movement on nuclear talks expires.
The images in his country's official media showed Kim riding a white horse to climb a snow-covered Mount Paektu. The location and the animal are both symbols associated with the Kim family's dynastic rule. The highest point on the Korean Peninsula is sacred to North Koreans and Kim has visited it before making previous major decisions such as the 2013 execution of his powerful uncle and his 2018 entrance into diplomacy with Seoul and Washington.
The images and Kim's comments were released days after his country's first nuclear negotiations with the U.S. in more than seven months fell apart.
South Korean media quickly speculated Kim may be considering a new strategy in his dealings with the U.S. because he's previously demanded Washington come up with new proposals to salvage the stalemated diplomacy by the end of December.
"He, sitting on the horseback atop Mt Paektu, recollected with deep emotion the road of arduous struggle he covered for the great cause of building the most powerful country with faith and will as firm as Mt Paektu," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.
North Korean documents say Kim's grandfather and national founder Kim Il Sung had an anti-Japan guerrilla base on Paektu's slopes during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. The official biography of Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, says the second-generation leader was born on Paektu when a double rainbow filled the skies.
The white horse is also a propaganda symbol for the Kim family that has ruled North Korea for seven decades with a strong personality cult surrounding family members. State media have occasionally shown Kim, his sister and his father riding white horses. The symbolism goes back to Kim Il Sung, who according to the North's official narrative, rode a white horse while fighting against Japanese colonial rulers.
KCNA said Kim also visited nearby construction sites in Samjiyon County and complained about U.S.-led U.N. sanctions imposed on his country because of its nuclear and nuclear programs.
"The situation of the country is difficult owing to the ceaseless sanctions and pressure by the hostile forces and there are many hardships and trials facing us," Kim was quoted as saying. "But our people grew stronger through the trials and found their own way of development and learned how to always win in the face of trials."
Kim also said "the pain the U.S.-led anti-(North Korea) hostile forces inflicted upon the Korean people ... turned into their anger," according to KCNA. "No matter what persistent efforts the enemy make, we can live well with our own efforts and pave the avenue to development and prosperity in our own way."
North Korea has been slapped with a total of 11 rounds of sanctions since 2006. The sanctions have been toughened since 2016 when Kim began conducting a series of high-profile nuclear and missile tests, and they include a full ban on key exports such as coal, textiles and seafood and a significant curtailing of oil imports.
During his second summit with President Donald Trump in Vietnam in February, Kim demanded the United States lift the newer and more biting sanctions in return for dismantling his main nuclear complex, a limited denuclearization step. Trump rejected that, and the summit collapsed without reaching any deal. The two leaders held a brief, impromptu meeting at the Korean border in late June and agreed to resume talks.
Their nuclear negotiators met in Stockholm for the first time since the Vietnam summit earlier this month but the talks broke down again. North Korea blamed the U.S. for the talks' breakdown and threatened to resume nuclear and long-range missile tests.
Washington, Oct. 16 (Xinhua/UNB) -- U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Turkey on Wednesday amid ongoing Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria.
Pence is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, when Pence will "reiterate President Trump's commitment to maintain punishing economic sanctions on Turkey until a resolution is reached," according to a statement released by Pence's office on Tuesday.
During his stay in Turkey, Pence will also voice the conditions for a negotiated settlement, the statement added.
However, Erdogan has already rejected Trump's cease-fire offer but agreed to keep in dialogue with Washington.
"I told President Trump that we would not declare a cease-fire first before discussing other issues ... we will make a deal first, then we will talk about the truce," Erdogan was quoted as saying by Turkish broadcaster NTV on Tuesday, referring to a phone call he had with Trump on Monday.
Pence and Pompeo's tour comes after the United States on Monday rolled out a package of sanctions on Turkey over its military operations in Syria, including blacklisting senior Turkish officials, halting bilateral trade negotiations and raising tariffs on steel imports from the country.
Wellington, Oct. 16 (Xinhua/UNB) -- New Zealand Finance Minister Grant Robertson said Wednesday that the country will join the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action while attending Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Chile.
The objective of coalition is to share information and promote action to tackle climate change.
It was formed in April this year, in recognition that meeting climate goals require not only environmental policies but also "climate-fiscal" policies like considering climate change in annual national budgets.
"New Zealand is delighted to be joining the Coalition. We welcome the opportunity to take on the challenges of reforming fiscal policy and the financial system to address the impacts of climate change," Robertson said.
"We are already putting this into action in New Zealand with this year's Wellbeing Budget expanding the range of measures by which we assess our success as a government, including in the areas of environmental and climate change policy.
"Our government also has an ambitious domestic policy programme to promote climate action and is taking specific steps that advance the objectives of the coalition.
"They include the Zero Carbon Bill, which proposes a 2050 emissions reduction goal in line with the Paris Agreement, establishing an independent Climate Commission to advise on the transition and the setting up of NZ Green Investment Finance Ltd to accelerate low emissions investment in New Zealand," Robertson said
Hong Kong, Oct. 16 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese foreign ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Wednesday expressed strong indignation over some U.S. politicians' actions of passing Hong Kong-related bills at the U.S. House, warning that playing Hong Kong as a card will get the United States nowhere.
Some U.S. politicians have kept bent on passing Hong Kong-related bills including the so-called "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019", ignoring the facts and confounding right with wrong. By doing so, they have openly endorsed anti-China troublemakers in Hong Kong, tested the red line of the "one country, two systems" principle, grossly interfered with Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs as a whole, and trampled upon international law and basic norms governing international relations, the commissioner's office said in a statement.
"We express strong indignation over and condemn such actions, which have again exposed the politicians' gangster logic and hegemonic mindset," it said.
Washington, Oct. 16 (Xinhua/UNB) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday declined to submit documents related to the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine as requested by a congressional subpoena.
In a letter to the House of Representatives on Tuesday -- the deadline set by the subpoena for Pence to hand over the records -- Matthew Morgan, the vice president's counsel, repeated the Trump administration's view that the ongoing impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats is "unfair" and lacks "due process."
Morgan wrote in the letter that "the purported 'impeachment inquiry' has been designed and implemented in a manner that calls into question your commitment to fundamental fairness and due process rights," and Pence's office will cooperate on the investigation only when it is conducted "in a manner consistent with well-established bipartisan constitutional protections and a respect for the separation of powers."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the initiation of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Sept. 24 over the president's conduct during a controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.
The impeachment inquiry was prompted by a whistleblower complaint filed in late August alleging that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, whom Trump accused of involvement in a corruption case in Ukraine.
One of the reasons the White House considers the impeachment proceedings illegitimate is the absence of a full House vote.
"Never before in history has the Speaker of the House attempted to launch an 'impeachment inquiry' against a President without a majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process," read the letter.
Pelosi said at a news conference Tuesday evening that she will not hold a vote on the House floor to authorize an impeachment inquiry as of now. "We're not here to call bluffs," she said. "This is not a game to us. This is deadly serious."
Standing by the side of Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Adam Schiff said "the Constitution is very clear: The House will have the sole power of impeachment."
"Republicans know it, but they don't want to discuss the president's conduct," Schiff added. "They'd rather discuss the process."
Pelosi and three House committees leading the impeachment inquiry -- Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs -- believe Trump's conversation with Zelensky, as well as administration officials' interactions with the Ukrainian authorities before and after the call, manifested "efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections."
Trump has denied wrongdoing, insisting that the call was "perfect" and calling the impeachment inquiry "another witch hunt" against him.
Also on Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer who has been at the center of the controversy and who has also been subpoenaed for documents, refused to comply with Congress' demand as well.