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Kim Jong Un wants US pushed out of Asia, South Korea credits Trump for talks



North Korea

As Asian countries are reeling under economic troubles and other disputes with their neighbours, China and North Korea are consistently pursuing to achieve their aim of becoming world power economically and militarily, while Kim Jong Un’s ultimate aim is to become number one nuclear power and achieve his granfather’s desire of Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

Inter-Korean high-level talks were held at the “house of peace” in the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone, which has divided the two Koreas since 1953, in Panmunjom. The talks  were watched and different observations were made by the United States, China and other countries of the region.

North Korea has formal diplomatic relations with 164 countries but is not in favour  of opting for diplomatic resolution  with the US on its nuclear and ballistic missile programme.

During New Year address, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un applauded the spectacular success of a super-powerful thermo-nuclear  weapon in 2017 as North Korea is on the verge of announcing its ambition and strategic goal of achieving full  nuclear capability.

Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA, has showed concerns  over North Korea’s government acquiring capability to hit the United States and said, “United States must prepare for North Korea  taking the “final step” to developing an intercontinental nuclear strike capability.”

At the talks, the north and south authorities discussed in earnest the principled issues arising in successfully holding the 23rd Winter Olympics in south Korea and improving the inter-Korean relations, and also issued joint statement.

Both sides had sincere discussions of the participation of a delegation of the north side in the 23rd Winter Olympics and Paralympics and the improvement of the inter-Korean relations in conformity with the desire and expectations of all the Koreans.

The north and the south agreed to proactively cooperate in ensuring that the 23rd Winter Olympics and Paralympics in the south side area would be successfully held, providing an occasion for enhancing the prestige of the nation.

Both sides agreed to open working-level talks with regard to the north’s dispatching of an advance party for a field tour beforehand and participation in the Winter Olympics, and agreed to discuss a schedule in the way of exchange of documents hereafter.

The north and the south agreed to make concerted efforts to ease the military tension, create a peaceful environment on the Korean peninsula and promote national reconciliation and unity. They shared the viewpoint that the present military tension should be ironed out and for this agreed to have talks between the military authorities. They agreed to promote national reconciliation and unity by invigorating contacts and travels, and exchange and cooperation in various fields.

The north and the south agreed to respect the north-south declarations and solve all problems arising in inter-Korean relations through dialogue and negotiations on the principle of By Our Nation Itself.

Kim Jong Un  is unwilling  to compromise with Washington on its nuclear  and intercontinental ballistic missile programme rather the Korean leader wants his nation to be recognised as the nuclear power equivalent  to that of other big powers  and desires to make north-east independent of United States influence.

The latest move by Kim to talk directly with Seoul shows that Pyongyang intends to ensure that there is no mediator or any outside power that may interfere in their bilateral matters.

Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of previous leader Kim Jong-il,succeeded his father in December 2011 and  over these years he has gained full control of his regime  and nuclear capability has legitimised his power.

But  South Korean President Moon Jae-in has credited U.S. President Donald Trump for helping to start the first talks between Pyongyang and Seoul in more than two years, and warned that Pyongyang would face sanctions if it continued with more provocations.

After continuous provocations in the form of testing ballistic missiles in 2017, latest UN sanctions were imposed that sought to drastically cut the North Korea’s access to refined petroleum imports and earnings from workers abroad.


By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist


Afghan government’s peace offer to Taliban

China and the European Union believe the Taliban should accept Ghani’s offer to recognize the movement as a legitimate political group.



Ashraf Ghani

US is concerned over the increasing number of high-profile attacks in Kabul orchestrated by Taliban that is aimed at undermining the Afghan government and international resolve to bring peace to war-torn Afghanistan after 16 years of war as Jakarta is preparing to host a trilateral conference where religious scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia would seek to establish peace and security, and the end of terrorism.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has assured unconditional talks to the Taliban and offered to recognize the group as a political party. The president also offered to provide passports to Taliban members and their families, along with an office in Kabul, but the Afghan Taliban remains skeptical about the Indonesia conference.

Kabul is our main effort. To harden Kabul, to protect the people of Kabul and the international community that are here,” US General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan stated.

To defeat ISIS and Taliban, Washington has shifted resources from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan by adopting the regional approach, Considering the complexities of political realities in Afghanistan, US is working to achieve a reconciliation, a political reconciliation, not a military victory.

As regards with strategic framework of U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s South Asia strategy unveiled in August 2017, it was hoped that Ghani would embark on a path toward more inclusive politics by shaping a broad-based consensus to prepare the grounds for the success of the new U.S. strategy.

General John Nicholson, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan said the United States held a series of private talks with Pakistani officials about the elimination of insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan.

US asserted that the recent pressure applied to Pakistan has not resulted in the reduction of violence in Afghanistan and reiterated that Washington will take steps to cut the aid coming from Pakistan to the Taliban and other groups.

Meanwhile, Head of Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has called on the Taliban to accept government’s peace offer.Hekmatyar said he has sent a peace outline to government and to the Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada and asked him to use the opportunity and join the peace process.

According to Hekmatyar, war is of no benefit to anyone and only the Afghan people are victims of the ongoing conflict. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed NATO’s support of an Afghan-led peace deal. “I commend President Ghani for his courageous leadership. His offer to the Taliban is the clearest invitation to peace yet. So I call on the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. There is an opportunity now to end the conflict”, he added.

China and the European Union believe the Taliban should accept Ghani’s offer to recognize the movement as a legitimate political group.

Arti Bali

Sr Journalist

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Congress plenary sets stage for keen, bitter contest with BJP in 2019

The Congress has suffered a string of reverses after its debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but its performance in Guajarat assembly polls and victory in Lok Sabha bypolls in Rajasthan has boosted the morale of party workers.



Rahul Sonia

The Congress made a strenuous effort to energise its workers for the electoral battles ahead at the party plenary that concluded on Sunday, pitching itself as the real alternative to BJP while also expressing its willingness to cooperate with like-minded parties to unseat the Modi government in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The session, with fiery speeches of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, gave an inkling that the 2019 battle will be keenly fought and the campaign could get bitter as the election approaches.

The Congress gave indications that it will run a relentless campaign, try to set the agenda for the polls ahead and seek to put the Modi government on the defensive on various issues.

Amid calls for sustained hard work to make Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister in 2019, the party signalled it would not shirking from a presidential-style contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Image result for congress plenary

Much will depend on the outcome of the verdict in states going to the polls this year — Karanataka first and Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh later this year. Except for Karnataka, the Congress and BJP are locked in a direct contest in the three other states.

The three-day plenary took place at a time when efforts are underway to forge a third front of parties opposed to BJP as also the Congress.

The speeches and the resolutions adopted at the plenary were a reaffirmation of the Congress claim of being the natural leader of the grouping of anti-BJP parties.

The Congress faces a stupendous challenge of building a counter-narrative against Modi to weaken his credibility among the people, win back sections that have drifted away and match the BJP’s deftness as a poll-fighting machine.

But it also has a natural advantage as a challenger to the BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and to the Modi government in 2019. In these battles, the BJP will be tasked with defending performance of its governments and beat anti-incumbency.

Image result for congress plenary

The Congress is also keen to make Modi’s 2014 pitch of “acche din” an albatross around the BJP’s neck.

Rahul Gandhi, who took over as party chief in December from his mother Sonia Gandhi, sought to energise the party rank and file and promised to address their grouse that well-connected within the party often “parachute” down at the time of ticket allocation at the cost of genuine, dedicated workers.

He also promised to make party leaders more accessible to workers by breaking the “walls” and giving more tickets to the youth.

With several state units plagued by factionalism, Gandhi indicated that he would enforce discipline so that party’s effort at winning elections is not wrecked in any way.

He framed the 2019 battle as a fight for truth by the Congress and for power by the BJP — likening it to the clash between the Pandavas and the Kauravas during the Mahabharata battle.

The “worker-centric” gathering was held in a different format than the past plenaries with leaders were not seated on the stage.

Image result for congress plenary

Rahul Gandhi said he had kept the stage empty for talented youth from within the party and outside.

Sonia Gandhi exhorted party rank and file not to think of personal egos and ambitions and work with determination to face challenges that are not ordinary.

While the party’s political resolution talked of adopting a pragmatic approach for cooperation with all like-minded parties and evolving a common workable programme to defeat the BJP-RSS in the 2019 elections, its leaders, in their speeches, exhorted workers to work for party’s victory in the general elections.

They also said that Congress was the only party that can reverse the “ill-effects” of BJP’s economic policies.

There was hope that Rahul Gandhi would unfurl the Tricolour from the Red Fort in 2019.
There was also hope that Congress will “once again” become a party that represents the aspirations and expectations of all the communities and is the anchor of the political and social dialogue.

While the party’s four comprehensive resolutions – political, economic, foreign affairs and on `agriculture, unemployment and poverty alleviation’ sought to address concerns of various sections of society, Rahul Gandhi, in his concluding speech, focused on youth and farmers – two sections that are perceived to be getting disenchanted with the Modi government and represent a vast section of population.

More than half of country’s population is dependent on agriculture for livelihood and almost two-third of population is below the age of 35.

The Congress has suffered a string of reverses after its debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but its performance in Guajarat assembly polls and victory in Lok Sabha bypolls in Rajasthan has boosted the morale of party workers.

By : Prashant Sood

(Prashant Sood can be contacted at [email protected])

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5 Spaces in your home that could do with great art



Home decoration plants


Your home is an expression of your own self. It reflects your taste, likes and personality. It speaks for you even when you’re not there. And when it comes to making a statement, nothing works better than a set of carefully curated artworks. Here’s a brief rundown on what works best for different areas of your home.


The most intimate of spaces, your bedroom is where you head to after calling it a day. A zone of comfort, tranquility and relaxation, the artworks you choose should evoke the same. Go for gentle colours, abstract forms or beautiful landscapes that will soothe your senses and put you at ease.

Living Room

The space for gatherings, celebrations, parties and movie marathons. In short, the liveliest space in your entire home. Go with pop art if you want to maintain a fun or irreverent vibe. Or a limited edition abstract piece if you want to intrigue guests and start conversations. And if you’re a traveler, a cluster of your dream destinations taking up an entire wall can work out great too. This is the space where you can let your imagination run wild. So go for it, we say!

Kids’ Room

Art plays an important role in developing the imagination of children and introducing them to ideas like beauty and aesthetics. While cartoon characters are an obvious choice for most, themes like wildlife, landscapes and colorful patterns open up a whole new range of options. And if nothing, framing your kids’ doodles and sketches is always a winning idea.

Dining room

After the living room, this is that one space where your family ends up spending time together every day. While the most popular option is photos or paintings of fruits and other food items, it has also become somewhat of a cliché. Instead, try going for something that symbolizes togetherness, well-being and family. Can be pieces of beautiful typography, portraits, graphic design or a play on colours.

Guest Room

There’s one cardinal rule when choosing art for this space: it should make your guests feel cozy, comfortable and at home. Go for warm colours and pick a theme that is universal, like music or nature. Bottomline is, it should feel welcoming instead of confusing or intimidating, all the while feeling like an integral part of your home.

So how to get hold of all this art?

Now that you have an idea of what you need, the question is how to go about sourcing them. You can always pay the galleries in your town a visit to see if they have something that suits your needs. You can even go online to check out various online outlets that sell various kinds of artworks. If there’s any specific artist or photographer you like, you can try looking for works on their websites. A lot of artists have their own online stores nowadays. Apart from these, there are new services like art-on-subscription that let you explore and experience different artworks for a small subscription amount every month. “Homes should be as vibrant and dynamic as those who live in them. When you don’t have to invest in buying an artwork but can instead keep refreshing them at regular intervals, the possibilities are endless,” says Rahul Singh Yadav, Head of Designat Floating Canvas Company, India’s first art-on-subscription service.

All set then? Get started!

About Floating Canvas Company

Floating Canvas Company ( is India’s first art-on-subscription service. Based in Mumbai, it was founded by Aagam Mehta, Shakti Swarup Sahu and Rahul Singh Yadav with one simple aim: to redefine the way art is discovered, experienced and shared.

No one actually hates the idea of exploring and experiencing good art. In fact, most people appreciate the positive effects of being surrounded by them – be it at home or work.

But there were two roadblocks:

1. The significant investment involved in buying a piece of art

2. The fear of growing out of it in a year or two. And then being stuck with it.

And that’s how to idea of merging art and subscription came about.

Select. Subscribe. Switch.

With Floating Canvas Company, exploring and experiencing quality art is now just 3 easy steps away.

1. Select what you like from their curated collection of paintings, limited edition prints, digital art, photographs and mixed media artworks.

2. Subscribe for as little as Rs. 90/month

3. Switch it six months down the line if you feel like exploring something else.

Floating Canvas Company just launched their website that lets consumers subscribe to their favourite works in an easy, hassle-free manner. Though they are currently serving only Mumbai, Pune, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Ahmadabad and Kolkata, they plan to expand operations and serve pan-India in the coming months.

Apart from individual consumers, Floating Canvas Company is also focusing on catering to enterprises. With studies highlighting a host of positive effects that art has on employees and patrons, they believe they have a compelling proposition in place for verticals like hospitality, real estate, healthcare, corporate workspaces and more. From art consultants and managers to assist with everything from curation and installation to subscription management, it’s an offering that enterprises should definitely consider to enliven their spaces.

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