Donald Trump has cancelled his planned summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, blaming his decision on a threatening statement from the Pyongyang regime. In a formal letter to Kim released by the White House, Trump said he had been “very much looking forward” to the summit in Singapore on 12 June. But he wrote: “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.” Trump declared that the meeting would not take place “for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world. “You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive that I pray to God they will never have to be used.” The president’s change of mind appeared to have been sudden and recent. In an interview recorded on Wednesday and broadcast on Thursday morning on Fox News, Trump had offered a concession to North Korea, saying he could accept a phased disarmament, contradicting his own top foreign policy officials. The about-face followed a strongly worded statement by North Korea’s vice-foreign minister Choe Son-hui, which in turn was a response to hardline comments by US vice-president Mike Pence. In her statement, Choe warned that Pyongyang could make the US “taste an appalling tragedy”. If the talks are cancelled, Choe suggested the two countries could engage in a “nuclear-to-nuclear showdown”. She said: “Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision … of the US. We will neither beg the US for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us.” In his letter, Trump thanked Kim for releasing three US citizens last month. He said: “That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated.” He left the door open to a future meeting if and when the war of words calmed down. “I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you,” he wrote in a letter that appeared to have been directly dictated by Trump, reflecting his speaking style, without corrections to syntax and grammar. “If you change your mind having to do with this important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history.” The immediate trigger for the row that erupted between Washington and Pyongyang and derailed the summit was the Trump administration’s repeated references to the “Libyan model”, which was presented by some officials as referring to Muammar Gaddafi’s 2003 agreement to abandon his nuclear weapons programme and surrender related equipment and materials to the US. Trump and Pence, however, used the phrase to refer to the 2011 toppling of Gaddafi and his subsequent murder at the hands of rebels after a Nato-back insurrection. On Monday, Pence echoed the president when he said on Monday: “This will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong-un doesn’t make a deal.” This triggered Choe’s statement on Thursday, dismissing Pence’s remarks as “stupid” and issuing reciprocal threats. [i]Source: The Guardian[/i]
Bangladesh's first geostationary communication satellite Bangabandhu-I (BS-I) has reached the desired location (orbital slot) 10 days after its launch from Florida. "Our satellite has taken its position and started functioning normally," Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited (BCSCL) Managing Director Md. Saiful Islam said today. The BS-I was successfully launched from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida of United States 16:14 local time (02:14 BST) on May 11. Most modern rocket "Block 5" version of the Falcon 9 of SpaceX has lifted the BS-I for the orbit located at 119.1 degree east. The BCSCL Managing Director said now they will conduct a series of tests before starting commercial operation. "Within three months, we will go into commercial operation," added Islam. Officials said BS-I will move round the earth once in every 24 hours positioning on 36,000 kilometers height with the similar pace of the earth. Immediately after the launch by the Block 5 of Falcon 9, the BS-I travelled 35,700 kilometers and then it took ten days to travel another 300 kilometers. This process is termed "launch and early orbit phase". Tajul Islam, Operation Engineer at Gazipur Ground Station, earlier said that BS-I has started sending signal to the ground station. He said around two months will be required to get full control of BS-I from the ground stations located in Gazipur's Joydebpur and Rangamati's Betbunia. BS-I will be mainly controlled from the ground station in Gazipur while Betbunia's ground station will be used as back up of Gazipur. According to the agreement, manufacturing firm Thales Alenia Space of France will handle the satellite along with local engineers for next three years. To this end, an 18-member team of local engineers has been trained up already. Bangladesh will operate satellite from 119.1 degree east using a payload comprising 26 Ku-Band and 14 C-Band transponders to deliver focused telecommunications coverage to Bangladesh. One transponder is equivalent to 36 MHz. Ku-band covers Bangladesh and its territorial area of the Bay of Bengal, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines. C-band covers Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and portions of Kazakhstan. The government took the Bangabandhu-I project in May 2015 and assigned the Thales Alenia by signing a $248-million deal in November the same year. Thales Alenia completed the manufacturing works of the satellite few months ago and kept it in a warehouse in Cannes of France. On March 29, the satellite was shifted to Florida. The satellite has 15 years for mission life span while another three years for its design. The satellite will offer video services for Direct-to-Home (DTH), e-learning, Tele-medicine, Family Planning, Farming etc while voice service to cellular backhaul and disaster recovery, and data service for internet, SCADA, SOHO as well as business-to-business (VSAT). [i]Source: BSS[/i]
US President Donald Trump says he will withdraw the US from an Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran. Calling it "decaying and rotten", he said the deal was "an embarrassment" to him "as a citizen". Going against advice from European allies, he said he would reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015. In response, Iran said it was preparing to restart uranium enrichment, key for making both nuclear energy and weapons. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said: "The US has announced that it doesn't respect its commitments. "I have ordered the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran to be ready for action if needed, so that if necessary we can resume our enrichment on an industrial level without any limitations." He said he would "wait a few weeks" to speak to allies and the other signatories to the nuclear deal first. "If we achieve the deal's goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place," he said. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) curbed Iran's nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions that had been imposed by the UN, US and EU. Mr Trump had previously complained that the deal only limited Iran's nuclear activities for a fixed period; had failed to stop the development of ballistic missiles; and had handed Iran a $100bn (£74bn) windfall that it used "as a slush fund for weapons, terror, and oppression" across the Middle East. Former President Barack Obama, who signed the deal on behalf of the US three years ago, called Mr Trump's announcement "misguided". [i]Agencies[/i]
Syrian state media says Israel has launched an air strike against an army position south of the capital Damascus. The Sana news agency said Syrian air defences had shot down two Israeli missiles in the Kiswah area on Tuesday. It reported no casualties, but a monitoring group says at least nine pro-government forces had been killed, including Iranian-backed fighters. Earlier on Tuesday, there were reports of loud explosions at a military base in the area. A commander supporting President Bashar al-Assad told a news agency that the strike had targeted a Syrian army position. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said the target was an arms depot. The dead included members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and other Shia militiamen, it added. Israel has not commented on the reports, but it has said it will stop what it considers Iran's military "entrenchment" in Syria. Iran has supported the Syrian government during the country's seven-year civil war, deploying hundreds of military advisers and thousands of militiamen to the country. It has reportedly built a military base in the area where Tuesday's strike is said to have happened. [i]Source: BBC[/i]
Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull on Saturday reaffirmed that his government would continue to stand by Dhaka on the Rohingya issue as he joined a meeting with his visiting Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh premier's press secretary Ihsanul Karim said the meeting was held Turnbull's residence where the Australian prime minister reiterated his country's stance on the crisis, reassuring his counterpart of keeping sustained pressures on Myanmar as well to take the Rohingya nationals back to their homeland. The premier, he said, informed Turnbull of the steps taken by Dhaka in giving temporary shelter to Rohingyas in Bangladesh and her government's future plans for the forcibly displaced people. Karim said both the leaders discussed issues of bilateral trade and investment and agreed to find out a viable means to boost up cooperation. Sheikh Hasina invited Turnbull to Bangladesh while the Australian premier accepted it saying he would visit Dhaka at a mutually convenient time. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali was present during the meeting. [i]Source: BSS[/i]
Kim Jong-un will on Friday become the first North Korean leader to cross into South Korean territory since the end of the Korean War in 1953. In newly announced details, South Korea said President Moon Jae-in would personally meet Mr Kim at the border at 09:30 local time (00:30 GMT). The historic talks will focus on the North's recent indications it could be willing to give up its nuclear weapons. The landmark summit is a breakthrough after years of mounting tension. But Seoul has warned reaching an agreement aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons will be "difficult", because North Korea's nuclear and missile technology has advanced so much since the sides last held talks. "The difficult part is at what level the two leaders will be able to reach an agreement regarding willingness to denuclearise," South Korean presidential spokesperson Im Jong-seok said. The meeting - the third of its kind following summits in 2000 and 2007 - is the result of months of improving relations between the two Koreas, and paves the way to a possible meeting between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump. As well as addressing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, the leaders are expected to discuss a path to peace on the peninsula to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, and a series of economic and social issues. Mr Moon will meet Mr Kim and his delegation of nine officials at the border, Mr Im told reporters on Thursday. DESHISMASH.COM
As many as 13 children were killed on Thursday morning when a school vehicle collided with a moving train at an unmanned rail crossing near Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh. Eight students have been critically injured and the death toll may rise, said a local police official to ANI. Eighteen children were traveling in the school vehicle. The accident occurred at a rail crossing in Dudhi near Kushinagar town. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath is said to be rushing to Kushinagar and the accident site for an on-the-spot assessment. He expressed his deepest condolences, and directed the district administration to provide all help and medical aid to the injured. He also declared an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakhs and directed an inquiry into the cause of the accident. [i]TIMES OF INDIA[/i]
The Commonwealth on Friday called for a halt to all violence, restoration of normality and accountability of the perpetrators for gross violations of human rights in northern Rakhaine state of Myanmar through an independent investigation. The 53-nation grouping made the call in a joint communiqu,, adopted unanimously on the concluding day of the 25th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that ended here yesterday afternoon. According to the joint communiqu,,, the member states called for sustainable return of all displaced Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh to their rightful homes in Myanmar under UNHCR oversight. Besides, the leaders of the member states called for creation of necessary conditions for sustainable return in safety, security and dignity. Praising the role of Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue, the Commonwealth leaders expressed full solidarity with the government and the people of Bangladesh affected by the influx of Rohingyas, the joint communiqu,, added. It said the Commonwealth leaders commended Bangladesh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for providing shelter to the distressed humanity facing an existential threat. The heads of the government also stressed actions to address the root causes of the current crisis including through immediate implementation of the Kofi Annan Commission recommendation. The leaders noted the general agreement and agreements reached between Bangladesh and Myanmar as a beginning towards sustainable return of the Rohingyas and their reintegration into Myanmar society as equal members. Opposing use of chemical weapons under any circumstances, the communiqu,, said, the heads of the member states expressed commitment to strengthening the effective implementation of the chemical weapons convention. The leaders reiterated their pledge to strengthening the disarmament and non-proliferation regime against the spread and use of chemical weapons, it said. Besides, they underlined the importance of timely investigation and stressed that the conduct of all investigations of any alleged use of chemical weapons must be in accordance with the provisions of the convention. The heads of the government also condemned violent extremism in all its forms, expressed their continued support of the UN Secretary General's Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism. Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque told reporters on Thursday that in the executive sessions of the CHOGM, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised the Rohingya issue and reiterated her five-point proposals which she placed at the UNGA last September to solve the crisis. Sheikh Hasina, he said, also renewed her call to the international community to put more pressure on the Myanmar government for quick repatriation of the Myanmar nationals with full security and dignity. [i]BSS[/i]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said he will suspend all missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site with immediate effect. "From 21 April, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles," the Korean Central News Agency said. The decision is aimed at pursuing economic growth and peace on the Korean peninsular, state media report. Mr Kim is due to meet his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in next week. He is also expected to hold an unprecedented summit with US President Donald Trump by June. If it takes place, it will be the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader. "This is very good news for North Korea and the World - big progress!," Mr Trump tweeted after Kim Jong-un's announcement. The declaration came in six dramatic bullet points on North Korea's state run news agency, and it is a significant statement. Mr Kim says it is not necessary to conduct any more missile tests because nuclear weaponisation has been achieved. This echoes his previous statement during a New Year address that the state is satisfied it is a nuclear power. After six nuclear tests North Korea may feel it does not need to upgrade its existing designs. This is not denuclearisation as demanded by the international community. Although North Korea has said it will abolish its atomic test site, it is not promising to get rid of its weapons. Pyongyang has also broken these kind of pledges before. But this is still an important step ahead of the summits with President Moon and a potential meeting with Mr Trump. North Korea has repeatedly defied international sanctions over its weapons programme. In November, it said it had successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the whole of the continental United States. The latest announcement from Pyongyang comes during a thawing of relations between North and South Korea. A telephone hotline has been set up between Mr Kim and Mr Moon ahead of the first inter-Korean summit in over a decade. "It was as if we were talking to a neighbour right next door," a South Korean official told local media after a successful test call that lasted 4 minutes 17 seconds. The agreement to set up the phone link was made last month when Mr Moon's top security adviser travelled to Pyongyang for a meeting with Mr Kim, who then agreed to hold the inter-Korean summit. The two states remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, with neither side able to claim an outright victory. [i]Agencies[/i]
At least 21 members of a wedding party were killed after a mini-truck they were travelling in fell into the Son river in Madhya Pradesh's Sidhi district, an official said on Wednesday. The accident in which more than 20 others were injured, occurred late on Tuesday when the driver lost control of the vehicle while crossing the Jogdaha bridge. The mini-truck crashed through the railing and plunged into the river. The wedding party was en route to Bahari in Sidhi from Deosar in Singrauli district. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has expressed grief over the incident. The relief and rescue operations continued through the night. All bodies have been recovered. The injured were in hospital.
Saudi Arabia is holding talks with the United States about sending troops into Syria as part of a wider international coalition, the kingdom's foreign minister has said. In his comments on Tuesday, Adel al-Jubeir said the deployment offer was "not new", adding that Riyadh had previously proposed the idea to former US President Barack Obama. "We are in discussion with the US, and have been since the beginning of the Syrian crisis about sending forces into Syria," al-Jubeir told reporters in Riyadh during a press conference alongside Antonio Guterres, the UN chief. "We made a proposal to the [previous] Obama administration that if the US were to send forces … then Saud Arabia would consider along with other countries sending forces as part of this contingent." The kingdom announced its readiness to deploy ground troops in 2016 to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Syria. While Saudi's air force partook in the aerial campaign aimed at defeating ISIL from the very beginning in 2014, the Gulf kingdom stopped short of a full ground troop deployment. US forces in Syria. The news came a day after the Wall Street Journal reported US President Donald Trump was looking to assemble an Arab force that would include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to replace US military presence in Syria. The force, which Trump's new National Security Adviser John Bolton hopes will include Egypt, would be in charge of stabilising the northeastern part of Syria, according to the report. The US has an estimated 2,000 troops stationed inside Syria, according to the Pentagon. [i]Source: Agencies[/i]
Many of the almost 700,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled Myanmar were subjected to acts of sexual violence by the country’s armed forces, according to a new report by the UN secretary general, António Guterres. Guterres’s report, which will be discussed by the UN security council on Monday, said international medical staff and others in Bangladesh, where many of the Rohingya have fled, have documented that many of the refugees “bear the physical and psychological scars of brutal sexual assault”. Guterres said the assaults were allegedly perpetrated by Myanmar’s armed forces, “at times acting in concert with local militias, in the course of military ‘clearance’ operations in October 2016 and August 2017”. “The widespread threat and use of sexual violence was integral to this strategy, serving to humiliate, terrorise and collectively punish the Rohingya community, as a calculated tool to force them to flee their homelands and prevent their return,” he said. Buddhist-majority Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as an ethnic group, insisting they are Bengali migrants from Bangladesh living illegally in the country. It has denied them citizenship, leaving them stateless. Guterres said “ethnic cleansing in the guise of clearance operations unfolded in northern Rakhine state”. “Violence was visited upon women, including pregnant women, who are seen as custodians and propagators of ethnic identity, as well as on young children, who represent the future of the group,” Guterres said. “This can be linked to an inflammatory narrative alleging that high fertility rates among the Rohingya represent an existential threat to the majority population.” Guterres’s report comes as Myanmar on Saturday repatriated the first Rohingya family from the refugees who fled to Bangladesh. The government said “five members of a Muslim family” arrived at a reception centre in Rakhine state, after months of fraught talks with Dhaka and amid UN warnings that Myanmar is not ready for their return. Myanmar’s army is one of 51 government, rebel and extremist groups in Guterres’s report that are “credibly suspected” of carrying out rapes and other acts of sexual violence in conflict. Other countries include Syria, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Mali and Somalia. Guterres said most victims are “politically and economically marginalised women and girls” concentrated in remote, rural areas with the least access to services that can help them, and in refugee camps and areas for the displaced. He said many women, including Rohingya refugees, are reluctant to return to locations they fled where forces including alleged perpetrators remain in control. The secretary general lamented that “most incidents of mass rape continue to be met with mass impunity”. [i]Source: The Guardian[/i]