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Putin opposes military action against North Korea

Russian president criticises US diplomacy in the crisis, cautioning that tougher sanctions would be counterproductive.

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Putin and Xi

Imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear missile programme would be counterproductive and threats of military action could trigger “a global catastrophe”, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.

Putin, speaking on Tuesday after a BRICS summit in Xiamen, China, also criticised US diplomacy in the crisis and renewed his call for talks, saying North Korea would not halt its missile testing programme until it felt secure.

“Russia condemns North Korea’s exercises, we consider that they are a provocation … [But] ramping up military hysteria will lead to nothing good. It could lead to a global catastrophe,” Putin said.

“There’s no other path apart from a peaceful one.”

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Monday that North Korea’s leadership is “begging for war” as she called on the body’s Security Council to impose tougher measures against the country following its most powerful nuclear test to date.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the North’s state-run agency, hailed Sunday’s test, saying it “marked a very significant occasion in attaining the final goal of completing the state nuclear force”.

Putin also criticised the US, saying it was preposterous for Washington to ask for Moscow’s help with Pyongyang after sanctioning Russian companies whom US officials accused of violating North Korea sanctions.

“It’s ridiculous to put us on the same [sanctions] list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea,” said Putin.

“This is being done by people who mix up Australia with Austria.”

Putin was speaking after South Korea said an agreement with the US to scrap a weight limit on its warheads would help it respond to the North Korea threat after North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test.

Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, has repeatedly joined China in calling for negotiations with North Korea, suggesting that the US and South Korea halt all major war games in exchange for North Korea halting its testing programme.

While describing additional sanctions as “the road to nowhere”, Putin said Russia was prepared to discuss “some details” around the issue, without elaborating.

Meanwhile, Japanese politicians have demanded tougher UN sanctions on North Korea.

A resolution by Japan’s parliamentary committee on Monday condemned the North Korean nuclear test, and urged the government to take leadership in pushing for tougher punishment against the country.

Taro Kono, Japan’s foreign minister, it was time to increase pressure on North Korea and eliminate loopholes that allow some countries to continue trading with the country.

 

Middle East

Gaza protests : 4 killed, 618 injured

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

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Gaza protests

Jerusalem, June 9 (IANS) Four Palestinian protesters were killed and 618 others wounded by Israeli soldiers on Friday during clashes near the Israel-Gaza border, officials said.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the Health Ministry spokesman in Gaza, said Zeyad al-Briem, 25, and Haytham al-Jammal, 15, were killed in east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, while Emad Darabieh, 26, was shot dead in east of Jabalia in northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, Yousef al-Faseeh, 29, was killed in east of Gaza City, Xinhua reported.

Among the injured Palestinians, 117 were hit with live gunshots, 60 with tear gas inhalation, and 77 by bullets shrapnels or tear gas canisters, said al-Qedra.

The clashes, which broke out on Friday afternoon, were part of the 11th Friday “Great March of Return” held by Palestinians in Gaza since March 30. More than 120 Palestinians have been killed so far.

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The Palestinian organisers called the latest rally “the Friday of the One-million-men March for Jerusalem”.

Local media reported that thousands of Palestinian demonstrators joined the protests at five different spots in eastern Gaza.

Hundreds of kites carrying Molotov cocktails flown by demonstrators landed on Israeli agricultural fields and caused large fires.

Eyewitnesses said Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at journalists and TV crew in eastern Gaza. Palestinian demonstrators brought down an Israeli drone carrying a camera used to film demonstrators in eastern Gaza City.

Five journalists were injured, including AFP photographer Mohamed al-Baba, who was shot in his right foot, and a cameraman working for the al-Aqsa Radio of Hamas, who was hit with a tear gas canister in his back, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

The Ministry also accused Israeli soldiers of firing tear gas at the medical workers who were treating the injured protesters.

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Middle East

Israel begins building marine barrier with Gaza

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

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Avigdor Liberman

Jerusalem, May 28 (IANS) Israel’s Defence Minister on Sunday announced that construction had begun on a marine barrier with the Gaza Strip extending into the Mediterranean Sea.

Avigdor Liberman said in a statement that the barrier aimed to prevent any attempts by Palestinians in Gaza to enter Israeli territory through the sea, Efe news reported.

“This is an additional setback for Hamas, which has lost another strategic capability that it has invested massive amounts in developing. We will continue to protect the citizens of Israel with might and sophistication,” Liberman said.

The barrier is to consist of three layers, one of which is to be underwater, and is expected to be completed within a year, the statement added.

During Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza, members of the military wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that governs the Gaza Strip, managed to swim to Israeli territory and launch an attack on a Israeli army installation before being killed.

Israeli authorities are also constructing an underground barrier beneath the Gaza-Israel boundary to stop Hamas from digging tunnels into Israeli territory.

Israel claims Hamas constructs these tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

An independent inquiry into the 2014 war in Gaza by the UN Human Rights Council concluded that “the tunnels were only used to conduct attacks directed at IDF (Israeli army) positions in Israel in the vicinity of the Green Line, which are legitimate military targets.”

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Middle East

US drone strikes kill 11 IS militants in Afghanistan

The drone strikes were launched on Sunday. Two IS militants were also wounded and three vehicles were destroyed after the raids.

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Kabul, May 28 : At least 11 Islamic State (IS) militants were killed after US and NATO-led coalition forces launched airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, authorities said on Monday.

“The drone strikes were launched on Sunday. Two IS militants were also wounded and three vehicles were destroyed after the raids,” an Army statement said.

Also on Sunday, Afghan Army helicopters struck and destroyed two heroin factories in Khogyani district, reports Xinhua news agency.

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