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Pompeo, Kim hold productive dialogue on Singapore statement: US

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Washington, Oct 8 (IANS) The US State Department on Sunday said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean top leader Kim Jong-un have held a productive dialogue in Pyongyang.

According to a statement issued by State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, Pompeo “held productive discussions” with Kim on Sunday, when they “discussed the four elements contained in the US-North Korea Singapore Summit Joint Statement” signed by the two countries’ top leaders, Xinhua reported.

“They also discussed the upcoming second summit between US President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim and refined options for the location and date of that next summit,” the statement read.

Pompeo and Kim also agreed to instruct their respective working-level teams to meet soon to intensify discussions on the key remaining issues to deliver on the Singapore Summit Joint Statement.

In addition, Kim invited inspectors to visit the Punggye Ri nuclear test site to confirm that it has been irreversibly dismantled, the State Department said.

“President Trump looks forward to continuing to build upon the trust established with Chairman Kim in Singapore and anticipates meeting again soon,” it added.

In a related development, North Korea is demanding the US take steps to secure Pyongyang’s trust before its denuclearization.

“Without any trust in the US there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first,” North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the UN General Assembly last week.

Pompeo was joined by US special representative on North Korea issues Stephen Biegun, and Kim was joined by Kim Yo Jong, first vice department director of the Central Committee of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK), the statement said.

This has been his third tour to North Korea since he became the US secretary of state.

Pompeo met with Kim on Sunday and arrived in Seoul later. He will also travel to Beijing.

While speaking with South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the media, Pompeo said that he and North Korean side “had a good, productive conversation”.

“There are many steps along the way and we took one of those today; it was another step forward. So this is, I think, a good outcome for all,” he noted. “What we all hope will be the denuclearization and the change in the relationship here on the peninsula … I’m confident together we can achieve the outcome that the world so desperately needs.”

For his part, Moon said that “I dearly hope that your latest visit, as well as the upcoming US-North Korea summit, which I hope will be happening soon, will make an irreversible and decisive progress in terms of complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula as well as the peace process.”

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Health experts warns of Covid-19 resurgence in Japan

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A group of health experts have warned that although Japan has witnessed a down trajectory in the number of new Covid-19 cases, the country could still see a resurgence of the virus.

On Thursday, Japan reported 474 new cases, taking the cumulative total to 80,592, Xinhua news agency.

Cases in the seven days through September 22 totalled to 3,287, dropping from 3,731 recorded in the previous week.

The experts on Thursday pointed out that the reproduction number in Japan (R0 or R-number), also known as the R value, which measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, has risen to one.

They said that infections had shown a resurgence since the beginning of September in a number of prefectures, including Miyagi, Gunma and Chiba.

The group added that in Kyoto and Osaka, rising cases were indicative of a resurgence of the virus.

As for Tokyo, the experts said the declining trend of new cases had “bottomed out”.

The health experts are waiting to determine whether Japan’s four-day weekend recently, which saw increased travel across prefectures and more group-oriented recreation, such as dining out, may have affected the increase in cases.

They noted that while the number of patients requiring hospitalization and designated as “severely ill” has been declining since late last month, the pace of decline has been markedly slow.

“We need to keep an eye on when the impact of the movement of people during the holidays will come out,” Takaji Wakita, director general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who heads the advisory group for the health ministry, was quoted as saying.

Of the new cases Thursday, the Tokyo metropolitan government reported 195 new cases with 39 of them comprising employees from a food processing plant in the city’s Edogawa Ward, where a cluster has been confirmed.

Tokyo’s cumulative total, the highest among Japan’s 47 prefectures, reached 24,648, the city reported Thursday.

Nationwide, outbreaks have also been reported at construction sites, food processing factories and barbecue parks, officials have said.

Osaka Prefecture, Japan’s second hardest-hit region by the virus, confirmed 66 new cases Thursday, bringing its total caseload to 10,271 infections.

Tokyo’s neighboring prefecture of Kanagawa, meanwhile, confirmed 58 new infections, to total 6,508 cases.

Japan’s death toll from the virus stands at a total of 1,550 people.

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No boundary dispute with China: Nepal Foreign Minister

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Kathmandu, Sep 23 : Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali on Wednesday said that there is no boundary dispute with China, referring to recent media reports that said China had encroached on Nepalese territory and built 11 buildings in Humla district on the Nepal-China border.

Later in the evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement and denied any encroachment by the Chinese side. These clarifications came amid media reports that China has unilaterally constructed 11 cemented buildings in Nepalese territory recently and locals of the Lapcha area where the buildings were constructed brought it to the notice of the local Humla district administration and protested the move.

But the Nepal Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday that its attention has been drawn to the media reports about the alleged construction of buildings by China within Nepalese territory between the Nepal-China boundary pillars 11 and 12 at Humla district.

“The Department of Survey, Government of Nepal, based on the official records, reports of the joint field inspection and boundary maps, has verified and confirmed that the said buildings are not located within the Nepalese territory,” the statement said.

Earlier on Wednesday, a group of people had protested in front of Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu and chanted slogans against the land encroachment by the Chinese in Humla. The issue of Chinese buildings in question had also surfaced in 2016, the ministry added, an inter-ministerial team after the field inspection had concluded that the said buildings were located approximately one kilometre inside the Chinese territory from the Nepal-China border.

The ministry stated that the boundary between Nepal and China was delineated and demarcated based on the Boundary Treaty and Boundary Protocols signed between the two countries. Nepal and China have always maintained close communication on border matters, it said.

Addressing a press conference Gyawali who is also the spokesperson of Nepal government said that a probe committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Land Reform had later shown that the Chinese side had constructed buildings some 1 kilometre away from the Nepal-China border. New buildings were constructed by Chinese authorities for their border security personnel in the same area now.

Gyawali also said that a team led by Chief District Officer (CDO) of Humla district is currently in the Limi village and further details will be available once the team returns to the district headquarters. The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu also refuted the media reports stating that the buildings mentioned by the media are on the Chinese side and urged the Nepal to verify the construction.

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France’s Macron urges UN mission to visit China’s Xinjiang region

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,”

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PARIS : France’s president on Tuesday called for an international mission under the auspices of the United Nations to visit China’s Xinjiang due to concerns over the Muslim Uighur minority.

U.N. experts and activists say at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping stamp out terrorism and extremism and giving people new skills.

“Fundamental rights are not a Western idea that one could oppose as an interference … these are the principles of our organisation, enshrined in texts that the member states of the United Nations have freely consented to sign and to respect,” Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,” he said.

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