World Newsletter

17th Aug 2019

Aiming to put his mark on the world map, President Donald Trump has talked to aides and allies about buying Greenland for the U.S. A Trump ally told on Thursday that the Republican president had discussed the purchase but was not serious about it. Also, a Republican congressional aide said Mr. Trump brought up the notion of buying Greenland in conversations with 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. However, Greenland has said it's not on the market. "We have a good cooperation with USA, and we see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer," the Greenland government said on its website. "Of course, Greenland is not for sale." NORTH KOREA HAS FIRED 2 MORE PROJECTILES INTO SEA, SAYS SOUTH KOREA South Korea's military said North Korea fired two projectiles into the sea on Friday to extend a recent streak of weapon tests believed to be aimed at pressing Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear diplomacy. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles launched from the North's eastern coast flew about 230 kilometres (143 miles) on an apogee of 30 kilometres (18 miles) before landing in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The Joints Chiefs of Staff said the US and South Korean militaries were analysing the launches but didn't immediately say whether the weapons were ballistic missiles or rocket artillery. It was North Korea's sixth round of weapons launches since late July when it began stepping up its weapons demonstrations while expressing frustration over stalemated nuclear negotiations with the United States and continuance of US-South Korea joint military drills that the North sees as an invasion rehearsal. South Korea's presidential office said national security adviser Chung Eui-yong was presiding over an emergency National Security Council meeting about the launches and President Moon Jae-in was being briefed on the developments. The Blue House called for the North to stop launches that risk raising military tensions on the peninsula. Japan's Defence 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. TRUMP MEETS ADVISERS ON AFGHANISTAN PEACE PLAN President Donald Trump met with top advisers on Friday to review negotiations with the Taliban on a U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan and the potential for a political settlement between the warring sides. "The meeting went very well, and negotiations are proceeding," the White House said in a statement. Mr. Trump, who is on a working vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, received the briefing from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other advisers on the talks, which have been handled by Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad. Vice President Mike Pence and White House national security adviser John Bolton were among the attendees, an official said. A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said significant differences remained between the United States and the Taliban after an eighth round of talks ended in Qatar on Monday. Trump has been adamant that he would like to withdraw U.S. forces, possibly ahead of the November 2020 election. RASHIDA TLAIB DECLINES TO VISIT WEST BANK, CITING ISRAELI CONDITIONS Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Friday she would not visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank, despite being granted an Israeli permit on humanitarian grounds, saying Israel's "oppressive" conditions aimed to humiliate her. Israel barred Tlaib and another Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar, from visiting Jerusalem and the West Bank over their support for the international boycott movement following an unprecedented appeal from President Donald Trump to deny them entry. Israel had said Ms. Tlaib could visit relatives in the West Bank on humanitarian grounds. The Interior Ministry released a letter purportedly signed by Ms. Tlaib in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit. "Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart," she said in a statement. "Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice." It was not immediately clear if she had initially agreed to the Israeli conditions, and if so what caused her to change her mind. US TELLS CONGRESS OF PLANS TO SELL F-16 FIGHTERS TO TAIWAN The Trump administration has informed Congress it plans to sell F-16 fighters worth $8 billion to Taiwan in a move that will inflame already high tensions with China. Two US officials and a congressional aide say the administration informally notified lawmakers of the proposed sale late on Thursday. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The F-16 deal is highly controversial because China fiercely opposes all arms sales to Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province, but has specifically objected to advanced fighter jets. The notification also comes as U.S. trade talks with China are stalled and amid unrest in Hong Kong that many fear could prompt Beijing to move militarily against the former British colony. The State Department, which would ultimately authorize the sale, declined to comment, but members of Congress from both parties welcomed the proposal. KASHMIR ISSUE: IMRAN KHAN SPEAKS TO DONALD TRUMP OVER PHONE Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday discussed the Kashmir issue with U.S. President Donald Trump over phone, as the U.N. Security Council held a closed door meeting to discuss India revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Khan took the U.S. President "into confidence" regarding the U.N. Security Council meeting at the U.N. headquarters after the Indian government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. "Prime Minister Khan conveyed Pakistan's concern over recent developments in Kashmir and the threat they pose to the regional peace," Qureshi was quoted as saying by the state-run Radio Pakistan. The Foreign Minister said the conversation between the two leaders was held in a "cordial environment". They also agreed to remain in contact over the Kashmir issue, he said. MASS TRAINING CAMPS IN XINJIANG ELIMINATED RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM: CHINA China on Friday defended its much-criticised "vocational education camps" in the restive Xinjiang where thousands Uighur Muslims have been kept, saying that the training centres have "effectively eliminated" religious extremism in the restive province. China in the last few months faced severe criticism from western countries over reports that it is holding one million people, mostly ethnic Uighurs, in internment camps in Xinjiang bordering India, Afghanistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and several Central Asian States in a bid to control violent attacks by separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) organisation. China blames the ETIM, stated to be an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, for numerous violent attacks in the restive Xinjiang region and various other parts of the country including Beijing. Resource-rich Xinjiang province is home to over 10 million Turkik-speaking Uighur Muslims. In a second official white paper titled "Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang", China said no terrorist incidents have occurred in Xinjiang for nearly three years since the education and training started, and the overall situation in society continues to be stable. "Religious extremism has been effectively eliminated. Through education, the vast majority of trainees can recognise the nature and harm of terrorism and religious extremism, and free themselves from the control these phenomena exert over their minds," the white paper issued by the State Council, China's central Cabinet said. SHARKS, ELEPHANTS AND PRECIOUS WOOD IN BALANCE AT WILDLIFE TALKS GENEVA: The fate of mako sharks, African elephants and their ivory, and precious wood used to make musical instruments are on the agenda of member states attending negotiations of the UN wildlife watchdog opening on Saturday, officials said. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulates the buying and selling of species at risk of extinction around the world, either by imposing outright bans or by requiring permits so that rare animals and plants are not over-harvested. The 183 states which are signatories of CITES meet in Geneva from August 17-28 to consider 56 proposals to expand a legally binding treaty which already covers 36,000 species. "Poaching and illegal trade in wildlife involving organised crime groups continue to pose a very serious threat to many animal and plant species. And for this reason this will again be a major issue of discussion," Ben Rensburg, CITES chief for enforcement support, told a news briefing ahead of the consultation which held is held every three years. Elsewhere, a global trade in shark fins is driving demand for mako sharks, guitarfishes and wedgefishes and is pushing them to extinction, according to CITES. The European Union and others have proposed that those three types of sharks and rays be listed on appendix II, meaning trade must be legal and sustainable. Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are now seeking to open up trade in ivory in certain conditions, according to Tom De Meulenaer, chief of CITES scientific services. De Meulener said that Southern African countries were arguing that they now manage elephant numbers well. MYANMAR, BANGLADESH SCHEDULE ROHINGYA REPATRIATION Myanmar and Bangladesh will soon make a second attempt to start repatriating Rohingya Muslims, 700,000 of whom fled a security crackdown in Myanmar almost two years ago, officials from the two countries and the United Nations said Friday. Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay, speaking in his country's capital, Naypyitaw, said the parties concerned had agreed that the process would begin next Thursday. Bangladesh Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Abul Kalam said the identities of the refugees have been confirmed by Myanmar and they could go back there if they want. Speaking in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, he said the government had ordered local officials in Cox's Bazar district to locate those on the list in the four refugee camps there, but their repatriation would only happen if they want to return voluntarily. He said Bangladesh is ready to provide support to any refugees who wish to return home, but also would not use force to make them go back. Caroline Gluck, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told The Associated Press that the Bangladesh government has asked for its help in verifying 3,450 people who signed up for voluntary repatriation. She said the list was whittled down from 22,000 names that Bangladesh had sent to Myanmar for verification. Leaders of the Rohingya refugee community in the camps said they had not been consulted on the matter and were unaware of plans for any imminent return.

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