Asean Summit, Malaysia on Nov 21, 1015

Asean Summit, Malaysia  on Nov 21, 1015
Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - Text version)

“….. Here is the prediction: China will turn North Korea loose soon. The alliance will dissolve, or become stale. There will be political upheaval in China. Not a coup and not a revolution. Within the inner circles of that which you call Chinese politics, there will be a re-evaluation of goals and monetary policy. Eventually, you will see a break with North Korea, allowing still another dictator to fall and unification to occur with the south. ….”

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)









North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk

North Korean defector criticises China in rare Beijing talk
North Korean defector and activist Hyeonseo Lee, who lives in South Korea, poses as she presents her book 'The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story' in Beijing on March 26, 2016 (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

US under fire in global press freedom report

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

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Monday, July 16, 2018

N. Korea, US hold talks on war dead repatriation

Yahoo – AFP, 15 July 2018

The latest US-North Korea talks began at the border truce village of Panmunjom
on Sunday, the South's Yonhap news agency said

North Korean and US military officials met Sunday to discuss repatriation of the remains of American troops killed during the Korean War, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Returning the remains of the US soldiers who perished during the 1950-53 conflict was part of a deal signed by the North's leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump during their landmark summit last month.

The latest talks began at the truce village of Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border, according to the South's Yonhap news agency.

In a statement, Pompeo said the meeting was "productive and co-operative and resulted in firm commitments." He added that further talks would start on Monday to arrange details including the transfer of remains already held in North Korea.

"Additionally, both sides agreed to re-commence field operations in the DPRK to search for the estimated 5,300 Americans who never returned home," he said, using the initials of North Korea's official name.

TV news footage earlier on Sunday showed vehicles with US army plates and believed to be carrying American officials heading to the heavily fortified border.

Pompeo, who visited Pyongyang earlier this month to flesh out details of the denuclearisation deal signed by Kim and Trump, had previously said that the meeting would take place on or around last Thursday.

The North did not show up at the border on Thursday but contacted the United States on the same day to offer to meet on Sunday, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said last week.

"We will be ready," she said.

Dozens of wooden coffins to carry the American remains have reportedly been brought to the southern side of the border in recent weeks.

The White House has hailed the summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore as a major breakthrough toward disarming the isolated, nuclear-armed North in exchange for easing of sanctions and other help with economic development.

Pompeo met with Kim's key aide during his latest trip to Pyongyang but as soon as he left, the North's foreign ministry berated him over his "unilateral and gangster-like" demands.

Trump on Thursday signaled optimism however, unveiling a letter from Kim in which the young leader hailed the "start of a meaningful journey" and tweeting "Great progress being made!"

Two Koreas to form joint table tennis team for Korea Open

Yahoo - AFP,15 July 2018

Table tennis players from the two Koreas also formed a joint team at this year's
championships in Sweden

The two Koreas will form joint table tennis teams for the 2018 Korea Open next week, a report said Sunday, the latest sign of thawing ties between the neighbours.

North and South Korea will field joint teams in the men's and women's doubles as well as the mixed doubles in the tournament to be held in the South's city of Daejeon from Tuesday to Sunday, Yonhap news agency said.

It cited an unnamed official at the Korea Table Tennis Association.

South Korean TV footage showed North Korean athletes and delegates arriving at Seoul's Incheon International Airport Sunday via a flight through Beijing.

Eight female and eight male athletes from North Korea -- including Kim Song I, a bronze medalist at women's singles at the 2016 Rio Summer Games -- will form the joint teams with the South's players, Yonhap said.

It will be the third time that table tennis players from the two Koreas form a joint team following the 1991 world championships in Japan and this year's championships in Sweden.

The joint team in 1991 shocked the world by defeating defending champion China to win gold in the women's team event. This year's joint team won bronze in the women's team event in Sweden.

The Korea Table Tennis Association could not be immediately reached for comment.

The two countries are technically still at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty, but sporting cooperation helped spark an ongoing diplomatic thaw after the North agreed to participate in the Winter Olympics held in February in the South.

The diplomatic detente triggered a rapid improvement in relations between Pyongyang and both Seoul and Washington, culminating in last month's summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

A group of South Korean basketball players visited the North earlier this month to hold friendly basketball matches with its athletes.

The two Koreas also recently announced they would field joint teams in three sports -- canoeing, rowing and women's basketball -- at next month's Asian Games to be held in Indonesia.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

India's top court reviews homosexuality ban

Yahoo – AFP, July 10, 2018

Section 377 of India's penal code, a relic from 1860s British legislation, bans gay
acts as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and allows for jail terms of
up to life, although prosecutions are rare (AFP Photo/DIBYANGSHU SARKAR)

India's top court began reviewing Tuesday petitions against a colonial-era ban on homosexuality, in the latest chapter of a legal tussle between social and religious conservatives and more liberal Indians.

Section 377 of the penal code, a relic from 1860s British legislation, bans gay acts as "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and allows for jail terms of up to life, although prosecutions are rare.

In 2009 the Delhi High Court effectively decriminalised gay sex, saying a ban violated fundamental rights, but the Supreme Court reinstated it in 2013 after religious groups successfully appealed.

The Supreme Court said the High Court had overstepped its authority and that the responsibility for changing the law rested with lawmakers not the courts. Efforts to introduce legislation however came to nothing.

In January this year however, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge by a clutch of high-profile Indians who said the law created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the world's largest democracy.

A ruling was not expected imminently, with Tripti Tandon, a lawyer for one of the petitioners in the case, saying the hearing would last "two weeks if not more".

Her client, Aris Jafer, was arrested and sent to prison for 50 days in 2001.

Manvendra Singh Gohil, an openly gay Indian prince who is an ambassador for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation charity, said on Tuesday he hoped the "draconian" law would be changed.

In January this year the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the ban on homosexuality by
 a clutch of high-profile Indians who said the law created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation
in the world's largest democracy (AFP Photo/SAJJAD HUSSAIN )

"The law doesn't affect only the gay community," he told AFP. "In fact it violates the fundamental right of every Indian."

"(If) this law continues it would mean we are still slaves of the British."

The gay community was emboldened last year when the Supreme Court referred explicitly to the issue in a landmark ruling upholding the right to privacy.

Gay sex has long been taboo in conservative India, particularly in rural areas where nearly 70 percent of people live, with homophobia widespread. Some still regard homosexuality as a mental illness.

Hindu right-wing groups supportive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been especially vocal, calling gay relationships a disease and a Western cultural import.

Last month, a lesbian couple committed suicide by jumping into a river in the western state of Gujarat, in just the latest tragedy as gay men and women struggle to conform to societal norms.

According to official data, 2,187 cases under Section 377 were registered in 2016 under unnatural offences. Seven people were convicted and 16 acquitted.

Globally 72 countries criminalise same-sex relationships, according to a 2017 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Eight rescued from Thai cave, but five remain trapped

Yahoo – AFP, Thanaporn PROMYAMYAI, Richard SARGENT, July 9, 2018

Thai soldiers walk out from the Tham Luang cave area as operations continue
for the 8 boys and their coach trapped inside (AFP Photo/YE AUNG THU)

Elite divers hauled four more young footballers out of a flooded Thai cave on Monday, authorities said, bringing to eight the number saved in a stunning rescue mission but still leaving five others trapped.

"Hooyah," the Thai Navy SEALs, who have played a crucial role in the against-the-odds operation, said in a Facebook post as they announced that a total of eight members of the "Wild Boars" football team had been rescued on Sunday and Monday.

Thais have been fixated on the crisis, hoping desperately for the safe return of the 12 boys and their 25-year-old football coach, after they ventured into the Tham Luang cave complex after practice and became trapped by rising waters more than a fortnight ago.

The extraction of the four on Monday followed a similar pattern to the previous day, with the youngsters emerging in quick succession just before nightfall after navigating a treacherous escape route of more than four kilometres (2.5 miles) that included extremely narrow and flooded tunnels.

Although the rescued eight were all presumed to be the boys, aged between 11 and 16, authorities did not reveal their identities nor confirm whether the coach remained inside the cave.

Asked if the remaining five would be shuttled out together, rescue operations chief Narongsak Osottanakorn said it was up to the divers whose meticulous plans, including stashing extra oxygen tanks along the route, are "set for four people, if we bring five we have to change the plan".

In a late-night press conference he also delivered a message from Thai premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, a gruff former general:

"The Prime Minister wants this to be a lesson, this should not happen again in Thailand," Narongsak said.

The saga has dominated global headlines, with the team spending nine days unaccounted for inside the cave, before British divers found them -- emaciated and dishevelled -- huddling on a muddy bank above the flooding.

Diagram of the Tham Luang cave and facts on the operation to free a trapped 
football team. (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

Authorities then struggled to determine the best way to save the "Wild Boars", with the group stuck on a shelf above the floodwaters in pitch darkness.

Among the ideas were drilling an escape route through the mountain, or leaving them for months until the monsoon season ended and the flooding subsided.

But with oxygen levels inside dropping to dangerous lows and the prospect of heavy rains flooding the area completely, authorities decided they had to move quickly and take the group out through the water-filled tunnels.

Deadly dangers

Narongsak described Sunday's initial rescue bid as "D-Day" when it was launched, and there were fears that any one of many potential pitfalls could prove deadly.

Among these were that none of the boys had scuba diving experience, and that they could easily panic while swimming underwater across twisted passageways in darkness.

Dozens of foreign divers and other experts from around the world were brought in to help the rescue effort, working alongside the Thai Navy SEALs.

But the death of a former Thai Navy SEAL diver who ran out of oxygen in the cave on Friday underscored the danger of the journey.

The first successes on Sunday offered hope of a fairytale ending to the ordeal.

Rescue chief Narongsak on Sunday described their journey out, escorted by the elite divers, as "smooth".

A man offers food to Buddhist monks near the hospital where the boys rescued 
after being trapped in a nearby cave for nearly two weeks have been brought 
for observation (AFP Photo/TANG CHHIN Sothy)

Crucially, round-the-clock pumping to ease some of the flooding paid off and threatened heavy rains did not arrive.

That led an upbeat Narongsak to promise more "good news" on Monday afternoon that materialised a few hours later with the emergence of the other four.

But although the eight were rescued, there were concerns they may have contracted an illness while in the cave.

Narongsak said after the first four boys were rescued that they would be quarantined "for a while because we are concerned about infections".

And rain could still re-emerge as a threat for the remaining five, particularly if there are complications that could delay the extraction further.

Authorities have repeatedly said the rain could re-flood crucial parts of the cave complex that have been drained and make the escape route much harder or even impossible to navigate.

Weather forecasters warned heavy rain could hit the area through the week.

Premier Prayut visited the rescue base on Monday night to deliver his congratulations to all those involved, but also to offer a note of caution.

"Everyone should be proud. (But) the mission is not over yet," Prayut said.

Related Article:


Friday, July 6, 2018

Sudden shift in Iran as hardliners back Rouhani

Yahoo – AFP, Marc Jourdier, July 5, 2018

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a joint press conference with Austria's
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on July 4, 2018 in Vienna (AFP Photo/ALEX HALADA)

Tehran (AFP) - Frequently a target of attack by hardliners, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is benefiting from a sudden surge in support from his former critics, a week after he called for national unity.

The apparent sea-change in conservative rhetoric follows hawkish comments by the president himself following Washington's unilateral May withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Visiting Europe to seek economic guarantees, Rouhani lashed out at Israel in the Swiss capital Bern on Tuesday, saying Iran "sees the Zionist regime as an illegitimate regime".

And he has questioned the American government's ability to make good on threats to prevent other countries buying Tehran's oil.

The latest evidence of the domestic shift came on Wednesday, in a letter by prominent General Qassem Soleimani to the moderately conservative president.

Soleimani -- head of the elite Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations -- thanks the president for his "wise and appropriate" words on Israel and the US, in the letter published by Fars news agency.

Rouhani's remarks were "a source of pride", wrote the general.

'Meeting in the Strait'

Rouhani is the main Iranian architect of the July 2015 nuclear accord with world powers, under which his country agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in exchange for easing multilateral sanctions which had strangled the economy.

Some Iranians have interpreted Rouhani's recent hawkish comments as meaning he could be open to blocking the Strait of Hormuz -- a threat Tehran has brandished during past bouts of regional tension.

Some 30 percent of all the world's sea-borne oil exports pass through the strait, which runs from the Gulf into the Indian Ocean.

Conservative Iranian media outlets have thrown their weight behind Rouhani.

"Meeting in the Strait" read a headline in Javan -- a daily close to the Revolutionary Guards -- along with a picture of the president and General Soleimani shaking hands in front of a map of the Strait of Hormuz.

A photo of Soleimani was splashed across the front page of Sazandegi newspaper with the headline "Unity Sepah-Government" (Sepah is the Farsi acronym for the Revolutionary Guards).

Rouhani, who has sought to open up various economic sectors to private enterprise, has repeatedly criticised the Revolutionary Guards for exerting too tight a grip on Iran's economy.

Since he first took office in 2013, Rouhani has regularly been attacked by ultra-conservatives.

He was elected for a second four-year term in May 2017, with the support of reformers.

After protests around the New Year in many Iranian cities against economic hardship, they accused Rouhani of abandoning the country's weakest citizens.

Some have held up America's withdrawal from the nuclear agreement as proof of the president's naivety in trusting the West.

'Survival of the nation'

As Iran's rial plunged in value and protests re-ignited, some legislators called in late June for Rouhani to be impeached.

But things changed abruptly after June 27 when he appealed to his opponents for help.

Kayhan is another ultra-conservative newspaper now backing the president.

"We must put to one side our differences because, at present, the national interest and the survival of the nation are at stake," said an editorial.

But Javan signalled the truce may only be temporary.

"Resisting the enemy and preserving the nation's independence require us to be together and put our differences to one side until a later date", wrote editor-in-chief Abdollah Ganji.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Treasure trove seized from ex-Malaysia PM worth up to $273 million

Yahoo – AFP, Patrick Lee, June 27, 2018

The raids on several properties linked to ex-PM Najib Razak netted 12,000 pieces
 of jewellery, bags containing almost $30 million in cash and hundreds of watches
and pairs of sunglasses (AFP Photo/Mohd RASFAN)

A vast trove of valuables seized in raids on properties linked to Malaysia's scandal-mired former leader, including cash, jewellery and luxury handbags, are worth up to $273 million, police said Wednesday.

The searches, part of investigations into scandal-hit sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, netted 12,000 pieces of jewellery, bags containing almost $30 million in cash across 26 different currencies, more than 400 watches worth $19.3 million, and other high-end designer goods.

"I think this is the biggest seizure in Malaysian history," said Amar Singh, the police's head of commercial crime investigations, after officials completed the mammoth task of valuing all the items they uncovered in raids around Kuala Lumpur last month.

He said the items were worth between 910 million ringgit ($225 million) and 1.1 billion ringgit ($273 million).

The official salary of Najib Razak, the former premier, while in office was 22,827 ringgit ($5,670) a month.

Allegations of massive corruption were a major factor behind last month's shock election loss of Najib's long-ruling coalition to a reformist alliance headed by Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib and his cronies were accused of plundering billions of dollars from 1MDB to buy everything from US real estate to artworks. Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.

His luxury-loving wife Rosmah Mansor became a lightning rod for public anger due to her vast collection of handbags and jewels, and her reported love of overseas shopping trips.

The mind-boggling collection of luxury items listed by police will increase public anger at the former first couple, whose spendthrift ways came to symbolise the decadence and rot in the Barisan Nasional coalition which ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1957 until its ouster last month.

Malaysian police say the raids on properties linked to the former prime minister 
led to the biggest property seizure in the country's history (AFP Photo/Mohd RASFAN)

Anger at allegations of graft swirling around Najib and his inner circle had become particularly acute in recent years, as many middle-class Malaysians increasingly struggled with stagnating wages and living standards.

Tiaras, sunglasses, watches

The items were seized in raids on six premises linked to Najib, including luxury apartments in Kuala Lumpur and his main residence in an upmarket part of the city.

The huge collection of jewellery included 1,400 necklaces, 2,200 rings and 14 tiaras. The most expensive item of jewellery was a necklace, which was estimated to be worth 6.4 million ringgit ($1.5 million), Amar said.

A total of 567 handbags were also seized, including 272 Hermes bags worth 51.3 million ringgit, police said, adding that the value of the other handbags was still being calculated.

A total of 423 watches worth 78 million ringgit were also discovered, along with 234 pairs of sunglasses.

It took officials five weeks, from May 21 to June 25, to count up the items and calculate their value, Amar said.

When items are uncovered in raids, police typically try to put a value on them on site, Amar said. But this was not possible with the Najib-linked searches due to the vast quantity of valuables.

"The next best option is to seal the items, to bring them back to a secure place and ensure that these items are not compromised," he said.

New Prime Minister Mahathir, who has just started his second stint as premier at the age of 92, has reopened investigations into 1MDB which were shut down by Najib, and has vowed the former leader will be charged.

Since their election loss, Najib and Rosmah have been questioned by anti-graft investigators over allegations that money linked to the state fund ended up in Najib's bank accounts.

The US Justice Department, which is seeking to recover items allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB cash in America, estimates that $4.5 billion was looted from the fund.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Koreas to hold reunions for war-separated families in August

Yahoo – AFP, 22 June 2018

The resumption of family reunions was one of the agreements reached
between the leaders of the two Koreas in April

North and South Korea agreed Friday to resume reunions for families separated by the Korean War in August -- the first such meetings since 2015 and the latest step in a remarkable diplomatic thaw on the peninsula.

Millions of people were separated during the 1950-53 conflict that sealed the division of the two Koreas.

Most died without the chance to see or hear from their relatives on the other side of the border, across which all civilian communication is banned.

The resumption of the reunions was among the agreements reached between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in at their landmark summit in April.

Officials from both sides met at the North's scenic Mount Kumgang resort on Friday and set a date for late August.

"The reunion will be held from August 20 to 26 and 100 participants will be selected from each side," said a joint Seoul-Pyongyang statement released by the South's unification ministry.

South Korean officials will begin inspections of the Mount Kumgang resort -- the venue of the reunions -- from next week and the two sides will exchange their final lists of participants by August 4, it added.

Only about 57,000 people remain alive who are registered with the South Korean Red Cross to meet their separated relatives, and most are aged over 70.

For the lucky few chosen to take part, the experience is often hugely emotional, as they are given just three days to make up for decades of time apart, followed by another separation at the end -- in all likelihood permanent.

The reunion programme began in earnest after a historic inter-Korean summit in 2000 and the reunions were initially held annually, but strained cross-border relations have made them rare.

North Korea has a lengthy track record of manipulating the issue of divided families for political purposes, refusing proposals for regular reunions and cancelling scheduled events at the last minute.

Pyongyang has previously said it will not agree to family reunions unless Seoul returns several of its citizens, including a group of waitresses who defected from a restaurant in China.

It is unknown whether the defectors were brought up at Friday's meeting, but the two sides agreed to continue discussions on "humanitarian issues" through further Red Cross talks, according to the joint statement.

The rapprochement on the Korean peninsula was triggered earlier this year when Kim decided to send athletes, cheerleaders and his sister as an envoy to the Winter Olympics in the South.

Diplomatic efforts have gathered pace since then, leading to a landmark summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore earlier this month.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

North Korea's Kim briefs China's Xi on Trump summit

Yahoo – AFP, Becky Davis, 19 June 2018

China retains a strong influence in North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un briefed Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday about his historic summit with US President Donald Trump, a visit that underscores Beijing's efforts to remain at the centre of fast-moving nuclear diplomacy.

Xi urged the US and North Korea to implement the agreements reached at the June 12 summit in Singapore, while Kim thanked Xi for his role in the diplomatic efforts, according to Chinese state media.

Kim's third trip to China since March comes as Beijing tries to strengthen its role as a mediator between the US and the North, where it claims compelling security and economic interests.

The North's leader, who is believed to have landed in the Chinese capital Tuesday morning, was greeted with a military honour guard at the ornate Great Hall of the People, as the Cold War-era allies repair ties that worsened when Pyongyang tested nuclear weapons and Beijing backed UN sanctions.

Kim "felt thanks for and highly praised China's promotion of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and its important role in protecting the peninsula's peace and stability," state broadcaster CCTV said.

North Korea "hopes to work with China and other concerned parties to promote and establish a solid, long-lasting peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula and make joint efforts to achieve a lasting peace on the peninsula."

For his part, Xi told Kim he "wants North Korea and the US to carry out the results of their leadership summit", the report said.

The motorcade believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un 
is escorted through Beijing

Trump and Kim pledged in a joint summit statement to "work toward the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

In return, Trump made the shock announcement that he would stop joint military drills with South Korea, long seen as a provocation by Pyongyang and Beijing. The US and South Korean militaries confirmed Tuesday they have called off a major joint exercise.

Kim told Xi his summit with Trump "achieved results that are in line with the interests of all parties and the expectations of the international communities," according to CCTV.

"If the two parties can solidly implement the summit's consensus step by step, it will open a new, important phase of the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula."

The United States relies on China to enforce UN economic sanctions against the North, giving Beijing potential leverage in its looming trade war with Washington.

"I think that North Korea can be another card Beijing can play to win leverage in negotiations with Washington," Yang Moo-jin, professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, told AFP.

Following the Singapore summit, China suggested the UN Security Council could consider easing the economic restrictions.

Wang Dong, an international relations expert at Peking University, said he expected Kim to ask China for help in easing the sanctions in return for his pledge to denuclearise.

The visit is the North Korean autocrat's third to China since March, when he made 
his inaugural foreign trip as leader. The two leaders are pictyred together on May

"The Chinese and North Korean leaders are carrying out consultations on how to jointly move the Korean nuclear issue forward," Wang said.

China may not have been at the table in Singapore but it retains strong influence behind the scenes, Wang said.

Tuesday's visit shows that "China is indispensable to the entire Korean nuclear issue," he said.

'Differences ahead'

Trump had hailed Kim's denuclearisation pledge as a concession. But critics said the stock phrase long used by Pyongyang stopped short of longstanding US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a "verifiable" and "irreversible" way.

It was urgent for Xi and Kim to discuss how North Korea would work towards meeting US demands, said Beijing-based international relations commentator Hua Po.

"There may be differences ahead between the DPRK (North Korea) and the US in regards to denuclearisation, because the US wants irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation. It may be difficult for Kim Jong Un to accept," Hua told AFP.

"Therefore, both China and the DPRK want to strengthen communication and form an overall strategy to deal with the United States going forward," Hua added.

Analysts saw the summit outcome as a sign of China's influence.

Beijing has repeatedly called for a "suspension for suspension" approach, under which the North would stop its nuclear and missile tests in exchange for the US and South Korea halting military exercises.

Related Article:


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Thai king granted full ownership of crown billions

Yahoo – AFP, June 16, 2018

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn inherited one of the world's great fortunes when he
ascended the Thai throne following the October 2016 death of his father (AFP Photo/
Panupong CHANGCHAI)

Thailand's king has been granted full ownership of the palace's multi-billion dollar assets under a law passed last year, according to a rare "explanatory note" published by the financial arm of the powerful but secretive monarchy.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn inherited one of the world's great fortunes when he ascended the Thai throne following the October 2016 death of his father, who ruled for seven decades.

Analysts say the Chakris are one of the world's richest royal dynasties, with estimates varying between $30-60 billion, although the monarchy does not publicly declare its wealth and is shielded from scrutiny by a draconian lese majeste law.

Most of the money is controlled by the opaque Crown Property Bureau (CPB), a vast portfolio that includes massive property ownership and investments in major companies.

But last July the Thai junta amended a royal property law for the first time in 69 years to give Vajiralongkorn full control over the CPB.

It is one of several steps taken by Vajiralongkorn to increase his personal control over the palace bureaucracy and its wealth since taking the throne.

The amendment means "all 'Crown Property Assets' are to be transferred and revert to the ownership of His Majesty, so that they may be administered and managed at His Majesty's discretion," according to a note featured prominently on the front page of the CPB's website.

The document was not dated and the CPB, which rarely grants interviews, could not be reached for further comment.

The note clarified that all of the CPB's shareholdings will also "be held in the name of His Majesty."

The CPB has major investments in some of Thailand's largest companies, such as Siam Commercial Bank and Siam Cement Company.

The note also said that previously tax exempt CPB assets will now be liable to taxation "in line with His Majesty's wishes."

Public discussion of the monarchy's actions remains taboo due to Thailand's lese majeste law, which punishes any perceived criticism with up to 15 years per offence.

All media based in Thailand must self-censor when reporting on the monarchy to avoid violating the lese majeste law.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Trump, Kim hail historic summit; questions over way forward

Yahoo – AFP, Andrew BEATTY, Sebastien BERGER, June 12, 2018

Standing in front of the flags of their two countries, Donald Trump and
Kim Jong Un made history in Singapore (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Singapore (AFP) - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un hailed their historic summit Tuesday as a breakthrough in relations between Cold War foes, but their agreement was short on details about the key issue of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons.

The unprecedented encounter in Singapore saw the leader of the world's most powerful democracy shake hands with the third generation scion of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations' flags.

Kim agreed to the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula", a stock phrase favoured by Pyongyang that stopped short of long-standing US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a "verifiable" and "irreversible" way.

And in a blockbusting press conference after the summit, Trump said the US would halt military exercises with Seoul -- something long sought by Pyongyang, which claims the drills are a rehearsal for invasion.

With Pyongyang having declared a moratorium on weapons testing on the grounds its development programmes were complete, the move looked like a tacit acceptance of the "freeze for freeze" proposal pushed by Beijing and previously decried by Washington.

Map showing the venue of the June 12 summit between US President
Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP Photo/Laurence CHU)

The US stations around 30,000 troops in security ally South Korea to protect it from its neighbour, which invaded in 1950 in an attempt to reunify the peninsula by force.

"We will be stopping the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money," Trump told reporters, adding that "at some point" he wanted to withdraw US troops from the South.

Both Seoul and US military commanders in the South indicated they had no idea the announcement was coming, and analysts expressed immediate concern.

Ending the drills "is in excess of all expert consensus, South Korean requests, and even a close reading of North Korean demands", said Adam Mount of the Federation of American Scientists.

In Washington, Pentagon personnel -- also caught off guard -- spent the morning discussing what could amount to an epic shift in the US military's posture in South Korea.

All smiles

The Singapore summit was a potentially legacy-defining meeting for both men -- comparable to president Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China, or Ronald Reagan's 1986 summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un shared upbeat words as they
sat down together for the first time (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

World powers from China to Japan, the European Union and Russia welcomed its outcome -- while cautioning it was only the first step towards resolving the nuclear stand-off with Pyongyang.

Many agreements have been made in the past with North Korea that have later fallen apart, and ahead of the meeting, critics expressed concerns that it risked being more about headlines than substantive progress.

It also legitimised Kim, whose regime stands accused of widespread human rights abuses, critics charged.

In the event, the two leaders showered each other with compliments in the sumptuous setting of a luxury Singapore hotel, a marked contrast from their previous rounds of mutual insults, such as "mentally deranged" and "little rocket man".

Trump said he had formed a "special bond" with Kim, whom he described as "very talented". As well as abuses at home, Kim is also suspected of ordering the assassination of his brother at a Malaysian airport last year.

In a blocbusting press conference after the summit, President Donald Trump 
said the US would halt joint military exercises with Seoul (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

After a day filled with smiles and handshakes watched around the world, the US "committed to provide security guarantees" to North Korea, while Pyongyang committed to "work towards" denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

Melissa Hanham of the US-based Center for Nonproliferation Studies said on Twitter that North Korea had "already promised to do this many times," adding the two sides "still don't agree on what 'denuclearisation' means."

Asked about the issue -- the crux of the summit -- Trump said "we're starting that process" which would begin "very, very quickly", but gave no concrete details.

Speaking later as he flew out of Singapore bound for the US territory of Guam -- towards which Pyongyang last year threatened to lob missiles -- Trump said he intended to hold North Korea to its word on denuclearisation.

"We're going to have to check it and we will check it. We'll check it very strongly," he told reporters on Air Force One.

In the meantime, the US leader declared himself satisfied with the summit outcome, saying "there was nothing more we could have done."

Asked whether he trusted Kim, he replied: "I do."

We'll meet again

Standing with Kim after the signing ceremony in Singapore, Trump vowed they would meet again.

"We will meet many times," said the president, who declared himself "absolutely" willing to invite Kim to the White House, when the time was right.

For his part, Kim -- who made headlines the evening before the summit with an nighttime visit to major tourist sites -- said the two Cold War foes had vowed to "leave the past behind", pledging "the world will see a major change".

Abraham Denmark of the Wilson Center in Washington tweeted: "It seems Kim got a huge propaganda win and a metric ton of legitimacy, and the US gave up joint exercises, for little new and nothing in return."

But he added: "The silver lining is that dialogue will continue, and where there is diplomacy there is hope."