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China’s Xi supports progress in inter-Korean talks: South Korea’s Blue House

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Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday welcomed recent progress in inter-Korean talks during a telephone call with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the South’s Blue House said in a statement.

At Tuesday’s talks, North Korea said it would attend the Winter Olympics in the South next month, and both sides agreed to resolve problems through dialogue and revive military consultations to avoid accidental conflict.

Seoul and Beijing agreed in October to move beyond a year-long stand-off over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea, a dispute that has been devastating to South Korean businesses that rely on Chinese consumers.

Moon made his first visit to China last month.

During the 30-minute call, Xi said he supported Moon’s stance that the advancement of inter-Korean ties and the denuclearisation of the peninsula should “go in parallel”, Moon’s office said.

“The two leaders agreed to strengthen strategic communication and cooperation,” the statement said.

It added that the two leaders hoped the latest dialogue effort would lead to a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue and the establishment of peace on the Korean peninsula, beyond next month’s Olympics.

In Beijing, the official China Daily cited Xi as telling Moon that China wanted to work with South Korea to “jointly maintain regional peace and stability”.

In a telephone call on Wednesday, Moon and U.S. President Donald Trump also said the dialogue “could naturally lead to talks between the United States and North Korea for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.”

Washington welcomed the talks as a first step towards resolving the crisis over North Korea’s program to develop nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States, but it has reiterated that any talks involving the U.S. must be aimed at the North’s denuclearization.

However, Pyongyang said it would not discuss its nuclear weapons because they were aimed only at the United States and not its “brethren” in China, Russia and South Korea, showing that a diplomatic breakthrough to the crisis remains far off.

Source : Reuters

Nature

France ditches plans for controversial west coast airport

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.

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Edouard Philippe

The French government on Wednesday formally abandoned decades-old plans for a controversial new airport on the west coast that became a site of resistance for environmental activists.

In a keenly awaited announcement, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the divisions unleashed by the proposed new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near the city of Nantes made it impossible to proceed.

“The project cannot go ahead in a climate of bitter opposition between two sides of the population that are nearly equal in size,” he said, adding: “The project is therefore abandoned.

The decision ends years of debate over a project first mooted in the 1960s — but sets the stage for a possible standoff with environmental activists who have been occupying the airport site for the past decade.

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.

Philippe gave them until the spring to leave voluntarily, after which they would be evicted.

“We will put a stop to the no-go zone which has flourished in this area for nearly 10 years,” he said.

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World

North Korea to send 550-strong delegation to Winter Olympics: South Korea

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North Korea

New Delhi, Jan 17: South and North Korea began their second high-level meeting on Wednesday to discuss North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games to be held in South Korea.

North Korea and South Korea agree to march together under unified Korea flag at Winter Olympics, said South Korea. North Korea to send a 550-strong delegation to the Winter Olympics – South Korea.

The Winter Olumpic Games will begin on February 9 in the South Korean county of Pyeongchang.

This is the second high-level inter-Korean meeting in little more than a week, after both countries held their first such meeting in two years on January 9, Efe reported.

Both countries agreed to convene future military meetings to avoid further conflicts and to discuss the appointment of a North Korean delegation to Pyeongchang.

The South Korean delegation is led by Deputy Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, while the three-member North Korean delegation is led by Jon Jong-su, vice chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC), an organization in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

The meeting will be carried out “in a calm manner, on the basis of the spirit of mutual respect and understanding,” South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun said.

During the meeting, North Korea is expected to announce its decision on South Korea’s offer to march together during the opening and closing parades of the games, as well as on whether or not North Korea will allow its athletes to officially compete in the events.

However, Pyongyang has yet to respond to the request made by Seoul on January 9 to hold a meeting in mid-February for families whose members were separated by the 1950-1953 Korean Wars.

South Korea’s vice Unification Minister noted that, given the approaching start of the 2018 Winter Olympics, it is very likely that the Wednesday dialogue will focus only on the sports event.

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World

Goldman Sachs reports 4Q loss on big charge for US tax reform

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New York, Jan 17: Goldman Sachs on Wednesday said it lost $1.93 billion in the fourth quarter, as the bank had to record more than $4 billion in charges related to the new tax law.

Goldman witnessed a net loss of $5.51 a share, as compared with a profit of $2.35 billion, or $5.08 a share, in the same period last year, according to The Washington Post report.

Excluding the one-time charges, the bank gained $5.68 a share, beating analysts’ estimates.

The $4.4bn charge forced Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs into its first quarterly loss since the third quarter of 2011.

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