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North Korean envoy warns of nuclear war possibility

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Han Song-ryol
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Pyongyang, April 18: North Korea will continue to test missiles on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol has said.

He said that an “all-out war” would result if the US took military action, BBC reported.

“If the US is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method,” Han told BBC.

Earlier, US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea not to test the US, adding his country’s “era of strategic patience” with Pyongyang was over.

“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new President in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” Pence said.

“North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

Pence arrived in Seoul on Sunday hours after North Korea carried out a failed missile launch.

Tensions have been escalating on the peninsula, with heated rhetoric from both North Korea and the US.

North Korea has accelerated its nuclear and missile tests in recent years, despite international condemnation and UN sanctions.

Its aim is to be able to put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach targets around the world, including the US.

US President Donald Trump has said that will not happen, and stepped up pressure on the isolated North.

He has sent a navy strike group towards the Korean Peninsula, and the US and South Korea are moving ahead with the early deployment of a controversial missile defence system.

Despite the tension, North Korea may carry out a sixth nuclear test soon, observers say. It test-fired a missile on Sunday that exploded within seconds of launch, following a grand military parade on Saturday.

Han told the BBC that North Korea believed its nuclear weapons “protect” it from the threat of US military action.

The North casts the US as the aggressor.

At a news conference at the UN on Monday, North Korea’s permanent representative Ambassador Kim In-ryong, condemned the US missile strikes in Syria, which targeted an air base after a suspected chemical attack by the government.

He said the US was “disturbing global peace and stability and insisting on the gangster-like logic that its invasion of a sovereign state is decisive and just and proportionate and contributes to defending the international order”.

China has reiterated its call for North Korea to stop all tests and has also called for a peaceful solution.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing on Monday that the Korean peninsula was “highly sensitive, complicated and high risk” and that all sides should “avoid taking provocative actions that pour oil on the fire”.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would not tolerate “missile adventures by Pyongyang” but a unilateral use of power by the US would be “a very risky course”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday told a parliamentary session that diplomatic efforts were “important to maintain peace”, but “dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless”.

He added that Japan needed to apply pressure on Pyongyang to “seriously respond to a dialogue” with the international community.

IANS

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife charged with fraud

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Jerusalem, June 21: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara on Thursday charged with fraud over alleged misuse of funds at latter’s residence.

Suspicions included the misuse of around $100,000 in official funds for catering services at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, Reuters reported citing the ministry said in a statement.

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Trump signs executive order ending family separations at border

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Donald Trump

Washington, June 21 : US President Donald Trump has bowed to public pressure and signed an executive order promising to “keep families together” in migrant detentions.

Trump reversed his own policy amid international fury over the separation of undocumented parents and children.

He said he had been swayed by images of children who have been taken from parents while they are jailed and prosecuted for illegal border-crossing.

It was not immediately clear when Trump’s order would be implemented.

“It’s about keeping families together,” Trump said at the signing ceremony on Wednesday, reports BBC.

“I did not like the sight of families being separated,” he said, but added the administration would continue its “zero tolerance policy” of criminally prosecuting anyone who crosses the border illegally.

The executive order states that immigrant families will be detained together, except in cases where there are concerns about the child’s welfare, but it is unclear for how long.

Trump’s order also calls for prioritising immigration cases involving detained families.

The President said his wife, Melania, and daughter, Ivanka, who reportedly have been applying pressure on him to drop the policy in recent days, “feel strongly” about ending the practice of separating migrant families.

“I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it,” he said. “We don’t like to see families separated.”

Vice-President Mike Pence and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has emerged as the face of the White House policy, were both present for Wednesday’s order signing.

Republican congressional leader Paul Ryan said the House of Representatives will vote on Thursday “on legislation to keep families together”.

He did not immediately provide details of the bill, but said it resolves the issue of so-called Dreamers, undocumented adult migrants who entered the US as children, “in a very elegant way”.

On Wednesday, American Airlines, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines said they did not want their planes used by the US government to transport the migrant children.

United chief executive Oscar Munoz said: “We want no part of it.”

For days administration officials have insisted they were simply following the law as written and their “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings meant they “have to take the children away”, in the president’s words.

Critics have countered that Mr Trump unilaterally created the situation that produced the heart-rending accounts of children separated from their parents, and he could unilaterally fix it.

By taking executive action, the president is effectively acknowledging they were correct.

Now the fight will probably move to the courts, with legal challenges to the administration’s decision to hold detained families together while their immigration status is adjudicated.

That is more politically hospitable ground for Republicans, who already face challenging mid-term congressional elections.

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Turkey hits US with retaliatory tariffs

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Ankara, June 21 : Turkey on Thursday became the latest country to hit back at the US for its tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Turkey’s Ministry of Economy said that it was imposing tariffs worth $267 million on US goods, targeting items like coal, paper, walnuts, tobacco, rice, whiskey and cars after negotiations with Washington failed to yield meaningful progress, CNN reported.

“Turkey is committed to active, robust and reciprocal trade relations with the US — but with the understanding that fairness cannot be one-sided,” Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said in a statement. “We cannot and will not allow Turkey to be wrongly blamed for America’s economic challenges.”

The US enacted 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and 10 per cent tariffs on imported aluminium in March. Exemptions were initially given to the EU, Canada and Mexico, but the Trump administration let them lapse at the beginning of the month.

Turkey didn’t receive an exemption.

Later, the EU, Canada and Mexico announced retaliatory tariffs against the US. China imposed tariffs on $3 billion of US products in early April in response to the steel and aluminium measures.

Turkey is the world’s eighth largest steel exporter, according to a report prepared in March by the Department of Commerce. The US was Turkey’s top market for steel in 2017.

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