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North Korea fires ballistic missile in new test

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Seoul/Washington, May 14 : North Korea on Sunday launched a ballistic missile which flew around 700 km, the South Korean Joints Chief of Staff (JCS) said.

This is the first provocative move from North Korea since South Korea appointed Moon Jae-in as the country’s new President on Wednesday.

The US calculated that the missile landed in water 60 miles south of Russia’s Vladivostok region, an American security official told CNN. Vladivostock is home to the Russian Pacific Fleet.

The US called for repercussions from the international community.

“Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement.

“North Korea fired an unidentified missile at around 5.27 a.m. today (Sunday) from an area in the vicinity of Kusong, North Pyongan province,” Yonhap News Agency quoted the JCS as saying in a statement.

A US defence official confirmed that it flew that far, but said Washington was still investigating to determine the type of missile.

In response, South Korean President Moon has strongly condemned North Korea for the launch, describing it as a grave threat to regional security and a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

He also called on Pyongyang to reverse its course of provocations for the resumption of dialogue while warning that his administration would deal resolutely in order to ensure it would not “miscalculate” the situation.

“Even if dialogue is possible, (we) should show (to North Korea) that it’s possible only in case of North Korea changing its attitude,” Moon said, presiding over a session of the National Security Council.

Moon asked for a review of a missile system that is being developed to protect South Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also slammed the launch, reports CNN.

“Despite strong warning from the international community, North Korea launched a ballistic missile again,” Abe said, adding “This is totally unacceptable and we strongly protest it. North Korea’s missile launch is a serious threat to Japan and clearly violate against the UN resolution.”

The projectile launch comes two weeks after a ballistic missile test that South Korean and US officials said failed.

That missile, launched on April 29, blew up over land in North Korean territory, according to a spokesman for the US Pacific Command.

Though tensions between the United States and North Korea have been higher than usual over the past few months, a senior North Korean diplomat told Yonhap News Agency on Saturday that Pyongyang is open to talks with Washington “under the right conditions”.

(IANS)

Europe

Belgian court ends extradition case against Catalan leader Puigdemont

The judge had declared the case to be “without merit” during an in-camera hearing.

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Carles Puigdemont

A Belgian court formally closed extradition proceedings against deposed Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont on Thursday.

Puigdemont and four of his deputies fled to Belgium in October to avoid charges of rebellion, sedition and misusing public money in relation to Catalonia’s independence bid. The Spanish Supreme Court withdrew the European arrest warrants last week.

The judge had declared the case to be “without merit” during an in-camera hearing, Paul Bekaert, Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer, told AFP.

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North Korea: Trump taking dangerous step to nuclear war by seeking naval blockade

Pyongyang also lashed out at the possible US move in a commentary on Sunday in the communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

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Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald

US President Donald Trump is taking an “extremely dangerous” and “big step” towards nuclear war by seeking a naval blockade, North Korea has stated, according to the official KCNA news agency.

Pyonyang also said it will take “merciless self-defensive” measures against any blockade, as it would consider such a move an “act of war.” The North Korean government also believes any blockade would be a “wanton violation” of its sovereignty and dignity, KCNA reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson previously mentioned the “right to interdict maritime traffic transporting goods” to and from the North, following Pyongyang’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on November 29.

Pyongyang also lashed out at the possible US move in a commentary on Sunday in the communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Earlier on Thursday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned that North Korea now finds itself in a position where it “doesn’t see any other way for self-protection rather than developing weapons of mass destruction and missile technologies.” Having reiterated that Moscow in no way supports Pyongyang’s nuclear program, the Russian leader stressed that the Kremlin calls for steps by all sides towards a peaceful solution.

Both the US and North Korea “should stop fueling tensions,” Putin told international media at his annual press conference, adding that everyone should be “extremely cautious” about the situation on the Korean peninsula. “One launch from North Korea will be enough for catastrophic consequences,” the president warned.

The comments come just one day after State Department spokesperson Heath Nauert appeared to backtrack on statements made by Tillerson, in which the secretary of state said the US was “ready to have the first meeting” with Pyongyang “without preconditions.” Nauert said on Wednesday that North Korea would have to suspend its weapons tests before such talks could take place.

Earlier this month, Moscow said it was ready to help facilitate talks between Washington and Pyongyang, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stating that “North Korea wants to talk to the US about its own security assurances.”

Russia and China have proposed a so-called “double freeze” plan which would see the US suspend joint drills with South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang halting its missile and nuclear tests. However, that plan was swiftly rejected during the summer by the US, which asserted its right to conduct military exercises with its ally South Korea.

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India ready to work with new Nepal government

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Nepal election
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New Delhi, Dec 14: Welcoming the parliamentary and provincial election results in Nepal, India on Thursday said it was looking forward to working with the new government in Kathmandu.

“India has age-old unique time-tested ties of friendship with the country,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in his weekly media briefing here.

“We look forward to working with the next democratically elected government in Nepal to advance our close and multi-faceted partnership across all sectors and to support Nepal in its pursuit of peace, stability, economic prosperity for all round development,” he said.

Nepal’s CPN-UML emerged as the largest party in the Himalayan nation. The vote count for Parliament and provincial assembly elections in Nepal ended on Wednesday.

IANS

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