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US Sanctions North Korean Tech firms based in China, Russia

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Trump, Kim

Washington, Sep 14: The US has imposed sanctions on two North Korean-controlled information technology (IT) companies based in China and Russia, accusing them of moving illicit funds to Pyongyang.

The U.S. Treasury Department designated the China-based China Silver Star, its North Korean CEO Jong Song Hwa and its Russia-based sister company Volasys Silver Star as fronts for the North Korean government.

“These actions are intended to stop the flow of illicit revenue to North Korea from overseas information technology workers disguising their true identities and hiding behind front companies, aliases, and third-party nationals,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Thursday.

The sanctions come at a time when the US is maintaining pressure on the North Korean government in its negotiations to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

“The US will continue to fully enforce and implement sanctions until we have achieved the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,” Mnuchin said.

The US has been using sanctions to maintain pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme, White House officials have acknowledged that there has been no progress on denuclearization, even as President Donald Trump considers a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

They met face-to-face during their historic summit in June in Singapore.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon said the US and allies are days away from launching a new effort to more publicly expose North Korean violations of sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programs, defence officials tell CNN.

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India blaming us without probe: Pakistan

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Dr Mohammad Faisal

Islamabad, Feb 17 (IANS) Pakistan on Sunday told foreign envoys here that India was blaming it for a horrific suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir even without any investigation.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said this to diplomats from Africa and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states.

The Dawn newspaper quoted Janjua as saying that there was “a familiar pattern of India blaming Pakistan instantly after such incidents without any investigation”, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted.

The Pakistan Foreign Office said a “deliberate anti-Pakistan frenzy is being spurred in India” and warned that “baseless Indian allegations and aggressive rhetoric are counterproductive and a threat to regional peace”.

Islamabad’s statement came three days after the Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district that killed 49 troopers.

Pakistan said it had rejected India’s allegations of its complicity because they were “made within a short time from the attack and without carrying out any investigations.

“These knee-jerk and preconceived accusations were nevertheless consistent with well-rehearsed tactics from the Indian playbook after such incidents in the past,” the Foreign Office statement added.

“Bluster, belligerence and pursuit of expedient standards to suit internal political interests is both delusional and counterproductive.

“India must come out of the denial mode, end state repression against Kashmiri youth, address widespread alienation in (Jammu and Kashmir) and pursue the path of dialogue,” the statement said.

The Foreign Office also raised questions over India’s acceptance of a video released by the attacker claiming to have ties to the JeM, saying New Delhi had double standards.

“India needs to introspect and respond to questions about its security and intelligence lapses that led to this attack,” it said. “India owes an explanation on reports of (suicide bomber) Adil Ahmed Dar’s arrest and custody since 2017.”

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Middle East

Counter-terrorism, energy security to top Indian agenda during Saudi Crown Prince visit

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saudi prince

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Counter-terrorism, including Pakistans role in sponsoring terrorism against India, and energy security are likely to be on top of Indias agenda for discussion during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmans visit starting on Tuesday.

India is expected to take up with the Saudi Crown Prince Pakistan’s role in the Pulwama terror attack that killed at least 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, informed sources said.

India has already started diplomatic efforts to isolate Pakistan internationally with Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale briefing envoys of around two dozen nations including those of P-5 and South Asian nations about Pakistan’s footprint in the Pulwama attack.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to New Delhi Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saty has said that Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India presents a “historic opportunity” to expand collaboration in all sectors.

Moammed bin Salman is on a three-nation diplomatic tour to Pakistan, India and China.

He will be on a two-day visit to India staring February 19 and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. He is visiting Pakistan before coming to India.

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World

India yet to tell us about MFN status withdrawal: Pakistan

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Abdul Razak Dawood Pakistan
Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the Pakistan's Prime Minister

Islamabad, Feb 17 (IANS) Pakistan said on Sunday that it has not yet been informed by India on withdrawing the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to Islamabad in the wake of a bloody suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the Pakistan’s Prime Minister on Commerce, said: “We are looking into the withdrawal of MFN status by India. We can speak to India about this issue.

“Pakistan can raise this issue at different forums including the World Trade Forum,” The Nation quoted him as saying.

A day after the terror attack on Thursday, India announced it was taking back the MFN status given to Pakistan in 1995.

The status means that a country will treat all World Trade Organisation member states equally in matters of tariffs on imports.

After withdrawing the MFN status, New Delhi imposed a 200 per cent import duty on all goods originating or exported from Pakistan.

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