2019, February, Newsletter

World News Issue Feb 28, 2019

World News Feb 28

KIM, TRUMP KICK OFF SECOND SUMMIT WITH HANDSHAKE IN HANOI

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met in
Vietnam on Wednesday for a second summit that the United States hopes will
persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for promises
of peace and development.
Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump shook hands and smiled briefly in front of a row of
their national flags at the Metropole hotel in the Vietnamese capital,
Hanoi, before heading to dinner together.
Mr. Trump told reporters he thought the talks would be very successful, and
asked if he was “walking back” on denuclearisation, said “no”.
“Now that we’re meeting here again like this, I’m confident that there will
be an excellent outcome that everyone welcomes, and I’ll do my best to make
it happen,” Kim said.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim held a 20-minute, one-on-one chat before sitting down
to dinner with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump’s acting Chief of
Staff Mick Mulvaney, Kim’s top envoy, Kim Yong Chol, and North Korean
Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.
On Thursday, the two leaders will hold a series of meetings, the White House
said. The venue has not been announced.
“Were going to have a very busy day tomorrow … Probably a very quick
dinner, said a smiling, relaxed looking Mr. Trump, seated beside Mr. Kim at
a round table with the other four officials and two interpreters.
“Our relationship is a very special relationship.”
Mr. Kim also appeared at ease. Well have a very interesting dialogue, he
told Mr. Trump.

U.S. URGES PAKISTAN TO TAKE ‘MEANINGFUL ACTION’ AGAINST TERRORIST GROUPS
OPERATING ON ITS SOIL

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said he spoke to Pakistan
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the topic of taking “meaningful
action” against terrorist groups operating on Pakistan soil, following an
air strike by India inside Pakistan.
“I spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi to underscore the priority of
de-escalating current tensions by avoiding military action, and the urgency
of Pakistan taking meaningful action against terrorist groups operating on
its soil,” said Mr. Pompeo in a statment.
He said he also spoke to the Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.
“Following Indian counter-terrorism actions on February 26, I spoke with the
Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to emphasise our close
security partnership and shared goal of maintaining peace and security in
the region,” said Mr. Pompeo.
In his statement, he also urged them to avoid “further military activity”.
“I expressed to both Ministers that we encourage India and Pakistan to
exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost,” Mr. Pompeo said. “I
also encouraged both Ministers to prioritise direct communication and avoid
further military activity,” he added.

PAKISTAN CLOSES ITS AIRSPACE FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS

Pakistan on Wednesday closed its airspace for commercial flights and
suspended flight operations across major airports, including in Islamabad,
Lahore and Karachi, for an indefinite period in the wake of the escalating
tensions with India.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority made the announcement after the
Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media
arm, acknowledged the closure of Pakistan’s airspace due to the prevailing
security situation.
The airport will be used for “military purposes” till it is reopened for
commercial activities, an official told DawnNewsTV, adding that a red alert
has also been issued.
“All civilian flight operations have been suspended,” the official said.
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mujtaba Baig said the flight operations
in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces have been suspended for an
indefinite period.

IRAN’S PRESIDENT REJECTS RESIGNATION OF HIS FOREIGN MINISTER

Iran’s president rejected the resignation of his Foreign Minister on
Wednesday, throwing his full support behind the diplomat who negotiated the
country’s nuclear deal with world powers as both men face growing pressure
from hard-liners as the accord unravels under American pressure.
President Hassan Rouhani earlier gave a speech praising Mohammad Javad Zarif
after the Foreign Minister’s sudden resignation shocked the Islamic Republic
late on Monday night. His rejection of the resignation, reported by the
state-run IRNA news agency, continued that praise.
“Since I consider you in the front line of resistance against broad
pressures by the U.S., I consider acceptance of your resignation against the
expedience of the country and I do not agree with it,” Mr. Rouhani
reportedly told Mr. Zarif.
It’s unclear what will happen next. Mr. Zarif could stop going to work at
the Foreign Ministry, forcing Mr. Rouhani’s hand. But there’s no precedent
for that in the history of the Islamic Republic. Mr. Zarif more than likely
will return to work. There was no immediate response from the 59-year-old
diplomat.
It remains unclear what sparked Mr. Zarif’s resignation.

TRUMP IS A CONMAN, A RACIST, A CHEAT, TESTIFIES COHEN

President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer told Congress on Wednesday
that Trump knew ahead of time that WikiLeaks had emails damaging to Hillary
Clinton’s presidential campaign, and he testified that Trump is a “racist,”
a “conman” and a “cheat”.
Michael Cohen suggested in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated
Press that Trump also implicitly told him to lie about a Moscow real estate
project.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project, which he
says Trump knew about as Cohen was negotiating with Russia during the 2016
election campaign.
The hearing was expected to provide the most damning depiction to date of
Trump’s campaign and business operations from a onetime member of the
President’s inner circle.
It is the latest step in Cohen’s evolution from legal fixer for the
president – he once boasted that he’d “take a bullet” for Trump – to a foe
who has implicated him in federal campaign finance violations.
Cohen’s claims that Trump had advance knowledge of the emails contradict the
president’s assertions that he was in the dark, but it was not clear what
evidence Cohen had to support the allegation or even how legally problematic
it would be for Trump.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has not suggested that mere awareness of
WikiLeaks’ plans, as Trump confidant Roger Stone is purported to have had,
is by itself a crime.
Cohen arrived in the hearing room just before the session was to start. An
earlier restriction that the hearing was not to delve into Russia would not
be followed, said House Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah
Cummings of Maryland.
Trump lashed out at Cohen on Twitter, saying that his lawyer “did bad things
unrelated to Trump” and “is lying in order to reduce his prison time”.

US GUN LAWS: HOUSE PASSES BILL EXPANDING BACKGROUND CHECKS

The US House of Representatives has approved a bill expanding background
checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows and on the internet.
The legislation is the most significant gun control measure to make progress
in Congress in more than two decades.
The Democratic-controlled House passed it by 240 votes to 190. The bill is
unlikely to be approved in the Senate, where Republicans have a majority.
President Donald Trump would also need to sign it for it to become law.
The White House said on Tuesday Mr Trump’s advisers would recommend that he
veto the bill as it would apply “burdensome requirements” that were
“incompatible with the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right
to keep arms”.
Critics of the legislation, including many Republicans, say the changes
would not have stopped many of the recent mass shootings, including the one
at a high school in Parkland, Florida, last year in which 17 people were
killed, which sparked student-led activism for stronger restrictions.
Campaigners say there is strong public support for expanded checks and
increasing dissatisfaction with congressional inaction.
“This bill delivers that change: ensuring that people who are a danger to
themselves and others cannot purchase a gun and perpetuate violence in our
communities,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

LIBERALS REMAIN ‘BIG’ GAINERS DESPITE JAGMEET’S VICTORY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA

The entry of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh Jimmy Dhaliwal in the House of Commons
via his Burnaby South (Vancouver) victory notwithstanding, the Liberals have
regained their bastion on Outermont in Quebec in spite of the Justin Trudeau
government having been pushed to the wall over the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
The Outermont seat in Montreal had always been a Liberal bastion before it
was snatched away by senior NDP leader Thomas Mulcair in 2007.
From that point, the fall of the Liberals and the rise of the NDP in Quebec
had turned steady.
Not only in Quebec where they gained but there was also good news for the
Liberals on Monday night.
The Montreal riding of Outremont had been a Liberal bastion before Thomas
Mulcair snatched it away in a 2007 by-election for the New Democrats,
foreshadowing the rise of the NDP and the collapse of the Liberals in
Quebec.

WORLD’S SMALLEST BABY GOES HOME FROM JAPAN HOSPITAL

Tokyo: A baby boy weighing just 268 gm (9.45 oz) at birth was sent home
after months in a Tokyo hospital, the smallest surviving male baby in the
world, Keio University hospital said. The boy was born through
Caesarean-section last August after he failed to gain weight during the
pregnancy and doctors feared his life was in danger. The boy was in
intensive care until his weight reached 3.2 kg and he was discharged on
February 20, said Dr Takeshi Arimitsu of the University’s School of
Medicine, Department of Paediatrics.

NEPAL MINISTER AMONG SEVEN KILLED IN HELICOPTER CRASH

Kathmandu: Nepal’s Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Adhikari and
six others were killed when a private helicopter crashed in eastern Nepal’s
mountainous Taplejung district, according to a media report. Besides
Adhikari (39), the Air Dynasty helicopter was carrying Nepal’s prominent
aviation and hospitality entrepreneur Ang Tsering Sherpa, Prime Minister’s
personal aide Yubaraj Dahal, two officials of the Tourism Ministry and a
body guard of the minister. The helicopter caught fire after it hit the
Chuchche Dada hill in Taplejung district in the mountain region of northeast
Nepal. All seven on board the helicopter, including pilot Captain Prabhakar
KC, have been killed in the crash, an Air Dynasty official was quoted as
saying by the Himalayan Times.a

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