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US will launch ‘massive military response’ to North Korea threats: Mattis

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-09-03 22:46

WASHINGTON: The United States will launch a “massive military response” to threats from North Korea, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Sunday.
He spoke after President Donald Trump met with his national security advisers following a test of what Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb able to fit atop a missile.
“Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming,” Mattis said.
He added: “Kim Jong-Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses and remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said, we have many options to do so.”
His comments came after Trump warned the time for “appeasement” was over and threatened drastic economic sanctions.
The unexpectedly powerful test Sunday was said to exceed in magnitude the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan — the resultant shock caused momentary panic in parts of China — and Trump slammed it as “very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

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Turkey should not become EU member, Merkel tells TV debate

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-09-03 22:28

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that she would ask the European Union to call off membership talks with Turkey, amid escalating tensions between Berlin and Ankara.
“I don’t see them ever joining and I had never believed that it would happen,” she said during a televised debate with Martin Schulz, her Social Democratic rival in elections later this month.
She added that she would speak with her EU counterparts to see if “we can end these membership talks.”
Merkel’s tough stance came after Turkey arrested two more German citizens this past week “for political reasons,” infuriating Berlin.
The arrests brought the number of German political prisoners in Turkish custody to 12, at a time when ties between the two NATO allies were already at an all-time low.
The plunge in relations began after Berlin sharply criticized Ankara over the crackdown that followed last year’s failed coup attempt.
The arrest of several German nationals, including the Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel, the Istanbul correspondent for the Die Welt newspaper, further frayed ties.
Yucel has now spent 200 days in custody ahead of a trial on terror charges.
German journalist Mesale Tolu has been held on similar charges since May, while human rights activist Peter Steudtner was arrested in a July raid.
After Steudtner’s arrest, Germany vowed stinging measures impacting tourism and investment in Turkey and a full “overhaul” of their troubled relations.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, has also sparked outrage after charging that Germany is sheltering plotters of last year’s coup, as well as Kurdish militants and terrorists, and demanded their extradition.
Erdogan added to the tensions this month when he urged ethnic Turks in Germany to vote against Merkel’s conservatives and their coalition partners, the Social Democrats, in September 24 elections.
The escalating tensions have split the Turkish community in Europe’s top economy, the largest diaspora abroad, which is a legacy of Germany’s “guest worker” program of the 1960s and 70s.


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Turkey urges global action on Rohingya Muslims

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
MENEKSE TOKYAY | Special to Arab News
Mon, 2017-09-04 01:35

ANKARA: Turkey has called on the international community to put pressure on Myanmar’s government to stop the killing and displacement of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday said Turkey has so far delivered more than $70 million in humanitarian aid to the Rohingya, but delivering aid is not enough.

“In two weeks, we need to hold a meeting in New York with the UN secretary-general, leaders of Muslim countries, international organizations, the head of the UN Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, Kofi Annan, and other leaders to solve this issue,” he said.

“We’ve called upon the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). We’ll organize a summit this year on the issue. We have to find a definitive solution to this problem.”

Cavusoglu also urged the Bangladeshi government to “open its doors” to Rohingya Muslims, and pledged to cover all costs to accommodate them.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has accused Myanmar of “genocide” against the Rohingya, continued his telephone diplomacy with the leaders of Senegal, Nigeria and Kazakhstan, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

He is expected to discuss the crisis on the phone with the leaders of Pakistan, Iran, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Azerbaijan and Bangladesh this week. Meanwhile, Cavusoglu spoke with former UN Secretary-General Annan.

Dr. Altay Atli, a research associate at Sabanci University’s Istanbul Policy Center, said Turkey can draw global attention to the tragedy and facilitate multilateral steps to resolve the issue.

“I see, however, two obstacles in this respect,” Atli told Arab News. “One is related to what I call ‘democracy illusion’ in Myanmar. There’s a democratic transition, the junta has left, there were elections, but democratization takes time.”

With the international community buying into this “democracy illusion,” it turned a blind eye to ongoing undemocratic practices, including the situation of ethnic minorities, he said.

Furthermore, Western countries want to access Myanmar’s natural resources and counterbalance China’s influence there, Atli added.

“The second problem relates to the OIC’s inability to act in unison, make binding decisions and enforce them,” he said.

Talip Kucukcan, a lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, said Ankara has taken the lead in raising awareness about the plight of the Rohingya, and calls on the international community to take effective steps to prevent a humanitarian disaster.

“A humanitarian tragedy is unfolding, while the international community pays lip service to the slaughter and forced migration of Muslims,” he told Arab News.

“The lack of response around the world indicates that UN and other agencies are becoming useless entities,” he said.

“Ankara couldn’t remain silent over the plight of Rohingya Muslims, not because Turks belong to the same religion, but due to Turkey’s emphasis and investment in humanitarian assistance worldwide.”

Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, and provides humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries regardless of religion or ethnicity, said Kucukcan.

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Philippine leader to meet Malaysian, Indonesian leaders over Daesh threat

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
ELLIE ABEN | Special to Arab News
Mon, 2017-09-04 00:44

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia to discuss closer counterterrorism efforts against Daesh.

“I have to talk to (Indonesian) President (Joko) Widodo. We’ve agreed that we’ll talk, the three of us, including (Prime Minister) Najib (Razak) of Malaysia. We’re just waiting for the timing,” said Duterte, raising the possibility of a joint task force to go after Daesh members.

He added that he will open his country’s borders to Malaysian and Indonesian authorities pursuing Islamist extremists.

Duterte said Daesh’s defeat in Syria will result in its members there trying to flee to places to which they have access, such as Marawi, the Muslim-majority city in the southern Philippines where government forces have been fighting members of the Daesh-inspired Maute group since May.

The crisis in Marawi have so far left more than 800 people dead and displaced thousands of residents.

Duterte said his meeting with Widodo and Razak is being worked out, with the venue either in Sabah, Malaysia, or Jakarta, Indonesia.

“To formalize an agreement, we have to meet face to face and agree on an agenda for the talks,” said Duterte. 

Meanwhile, his spokesman Ernesto Abella on Sunday said “it will only be a matter of time” before government forces “get” Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader designated emir of Daesh in Southeast Asia and one of America’s most wanted terrorists.

There are reports that Hapilon has left Marawi and has been seen openly on Basilan Island. But Abella said such reports require “further validation by the military and various security agencies.”

If Hapilon is in Basilan, “it would mean that he chose to abandon his men as the battle of Marawi nears its final stretch,” said Abella, adding that according to recent military assessments, Hapilon is still in Marawi.

A botched joint military and police operation to serve an arrest warrant against Hapilon in May triggered the Marawi crisis.
Authorities said he was in the city to join forces with Maute, which has pledged allegiance to Daesh. The Marawi crisis prompted Duterte to place the entire island of Mindanao under martial law.

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Musharraf says will face Bhutto murder trial in Pakistan

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-09-03 17:22

ISLAMABAD: Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf said he would return to Pakistan to face trial in the murder case of ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
A Pakistani court on Thursday pronounced Musharraf a fugitive in the murder trial but acquitted five men accused of involvement in the 2007 assassination of Bhutto, the first female prime minister of a Muslim country.
In a statement issued to the media Sunday, Musharraf said the verdict of the Rawalpindi Anti Terrorism Court was not against him.
“I will certainly come back to Pakistan and face the trial, as and when I am medically fit,” he said.
“I have been framed in the Benazir Bhutto murder case by way of political victimization, while I had nothing to do with her untimely and tragic death,” he said.
“I have not been the beneficiary of prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder and the entire case as pitched against me is materially false, fictitious, fabricated and is a result of political intrigue,” the former army chief said.
The anti-terrorism court branded Musharraf as an absconder and ordered the confiscation of his property.
The verdicts are the first to be issued since Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack nearly a decade ago, sparking street violence and plunging Pakistan into months of political turmoil.
Former president and military ruler Musharraf is alleged to have been part of a broad conspiracy to have his political rival killed before elections. He has denied the allegation.
He was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder, and facilitation for murder in 2013, in an unprecedented move against an ex-army chief, challenging beliefs the military is immune from prosecution.
But he has been in self-imposed exile in Dubai ever since a travel ban was lifted three years later.
Musharraf’s government blamed the assassination on Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement. He was killed in a US drone attack in 2009.
In 2010, the UN report accused Musharraf’s government of failing to give Bhutto adequate protection and said her death could have been prevented.

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UK PM May pushes for new sanctions on N. Korea after nuclear test

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-09-03 17:06

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday said the United Nations Security Council should urgently look at imposing new sanctions on North Korea and speed up implementation of existing ones.
Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test earlier on Sunday.
“This latest action by North Korea is reckless and poses an unacceptable further threat to the international community,” May said in an e-mailed statement.
“I discussed the serious and grave threat these dangerous and illegal actions present with President Abe in Japan this week and reiterate the call we jointly made for tougher action, including increasing the pace of implementation of existing sanctions and looking urgently in the UN Security Council at new measures.”

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US to prepare new draft sanctions on N.Korea: Treasury chief

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-09-03 16:29

WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department will prepare a package of sanctions that would “cut off North Korea economically” following the isolated regime’s latest nuclear test, the department chief said Sunday.
“I’m going to draft a sanctions package and send it to the president for his strong consideration so anybody (who) wants to do trade or business with them will be prevented from doing trade or business with us,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“We will work with our allies. We will work with China. But people need to cut off North Korea economically, this is unacceptable behavior,” he said.

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N. Korea nuclear test ‘absolutely unacceptable’: Japan PM

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-09-03 13:00

TOKYO: Japan’s prime minister slammed North Korea’s nuclear test on Sunday as “absolutely unacceptable” and said its nuclear and missile programs now pose a more “grave and urgent” threat to his country.
“(North Korea) ignored repeated warnings by the international community and forcibly conducted a nuclear test. It is absolutely unacceptable,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.
“Whether we can stop North Korea’s reckless actions that threaten world peace depends on the cooperation and solidarity of the international community,” he added.
The North described the test of what it called a hydrogen bomb as a “perfect success.”
In an earlier statement, Abe described North Korea’s nuclear and missile program as an increasingly “grave and urgent” threat to the safety of Japan.
“Our country lodges a strict protest against North Korea and condemns it in the strongest words,” he said in the statement.
The explosion came just hours after Pyongyang claimed to have developed a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded onto a long-range missile, and after Abe held telephone talks with US President Donald Trump on the North’s weapons programs.
“The government confirms that North Korea conducted a nuclear test after examining information from the weather agency and other information,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told reporters.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the ministry has begun flying “sniffer” planes capable of detecting radioactive fallout.
“We’ll do our best to collect information,” he said, according to public broadcaster NHK.

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Russia slams N.Korea nuclear test, urges calm

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-09-03 12:07

MOSCOW: Russia urged calm on Sunday as it slammed North Korea after Pyongyang said it successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
“This latest demonstrative disregard by Pyongyang of the requirements of the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the norms of international law deserves the strongest condemnation,” the foreign ministry in Moscow said.
The ministry said it regretted that the leadership of North Korea was “creating a serious threat” for the region and warned that “the continuation of such a line is fraught with serious consequences” for Pyongyang.
“In the unfolding conditions, it is imperative to remain calm and to refrain from any actions that lead to a further escalation of tension,” a statement said.
“We call on all interested parties to immediately return to dialogue and negotiations as the only possible way for an overall settlement of the problems of the Korean peninsula,” it said.
The ministry insisted Moscow remained committed to a joint Russian-Chinese proposal that would see Pyongyang halt weapons tests in return for the US suspending military exercises in the region.

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Macron urges ‘very firm’ response to N.Korea nuclear test

September 3, 2017 rbksa 0
Sun, 2017-09-03 12:33

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron called Sunday for a “very firm” response by the international community to North Korea’s announcement that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.
“The international community must be very firm in its handling of this latest provocation, in order to get North Korea to unconditionally return to talks and proceed with the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear and ballistic programs,” Macron said in a statement.
He called on the UN Security Council to “quickly react” to the escalation and also urged the European Union to come up with a “clear and united” response.
North Korea said it tested a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on a missile and that its biggest-ever nuclear detonation had been a “perfect success.”
Hydrogen bombs or H-bombs — also known as thermonuclear devices — are far more powerful than the relatively simple atomic weapons the North was believed to have tested so far.
The announcement drew swift and strong condemnation from regional powers, including Pyongyang ally China.
US President Donald Trump, who last month threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” for firing two-long range ballistic missiles, had yet to react.

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