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N. Korea hails ‘historic’ Kim-Trump meet

‘The two leaders agreed to resume dialogue for making a breakthrough in denuclearisation’

In print: People reading publicly displayed newspapers reporting the Sunday meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday.AP

North Korea on Monday hailed the weekend meeting between leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump in the Demilitarized Zone as “historic”, as analysts said Pyongyang was looking to shape the narrative to its own agenda.

The two leaders agreed to “resume and push forward productive dialogues for making a new breakthrough in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

Twitter invitation

After a Twitter invitation by the U.S. President on Saturday, the two men met a day later in the strip of land that has divided the peninsula for 66 years since the end of the Korean War, when the two countries and their allies fought each other to a standstill.

Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump shook hands over the concrete slabs dividing North and South before Mr. Trump walked a few paces into Pyongyang’s territory — the first U.S. President ever to set foot on North Korean soil.

“The top leaders of the DPRK and the U.S. exchanging historic handshakes at Panmunjom” was an “amazing event”, KCNA said, describing the truce village as a “place that had been known as the symbol of division” and referring to past “inglorious relations” between the countries. The impromptu meeting in the DMZ — where the U.S. President said they agreed to resume working-level talks within weeks on the North’s nuclear programme — was full of symbolism.

Mr. Trump’s border-crossing, which he said was uncertain until the last moment, was an extraordinary sequel to the scene at Mr. Kim’s first summit with Moon Jae-in last year, when the young leader invited the South Korean President to walk over the Military Demarcation Line, as the border is officially known.

Pictures from the meeting — including a sequence of images from the Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim emerging from opposite sides for a handshake and a skip across the border — were splashed across the front page of the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, which carried 35 images in total.

Regional powerhouse China on Monday said renewed discussions between North Korea and the U.S. are of “great significance”.

“It is hoped that all parties concerned will seize the opportunity, move in the same direction, actively explore effective solutions to each other's concerns and make progress on the peninsula,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing.

In tears

In Washington, Mr. Trump said many North Koreans were literally in tears when he stepped into their country. “I actually stepped into North Korea and they say it’s a very historic moment,” he told American soldiers at Osan Air Base after his meeting with Chairman Kim.

“Many people, I noticed, from Korea were literally in tears,” he added.

Trump bets big on diplomacy to solve Korean nuclear crisis

After meeting the N. Korean leader in DMZ, the U.S. President said ‘speed is not the object’ of his outreach but a ‘good deal’ is

On Sunday, Donald Trump became the first sitting American President to have stepped into North Korea. After a historic handshake with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas, President Trump crossed the demarcation line. The two leaders walked a few metres on the North Korean side and then crossed back and had talks. They have decided to resume stalled nuclear talks.

Mr. Trump’s visit to the DMZ, which followed his surprise offer for talks via Twitter a day earlier, suggests that he is keen on pursuing the diplomatic option to achieve his goal — denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

A war with North Korea would be catastrophic. North Korea is a nuclear power that boasts of long-range ballistic missiles, with the U.S. in their range.

The North has also stationed thousands of pieces of ready-to-fire artillery along the DMZ that could target Seoul, the South Korean capital with a population of 10 million that lies roughly 50 km from the border. U.S. troops deployed in East Asia could also be targeted.

Ever since his Singapore summit with Mr. Kim last year, Mr. Trump, otherwise known for his incendiary tweets and threats, has stayed away from attacking North Korea. On Sunday, after holding talks with Mr. Kim for nearly an hour, he said “speed is not the object”, but a “good deal” is.

Mr. Kim, on the other side, has shown interest in engaging with the U.S. and opening up the North’s economy, which needs relief from sanctions. Also, North Korea’s nuclear programme is primarily rooted in deterrence, not in expansionism. So, at least in theory, a deal is possible if the North’s security concerns are addressed and sanctions are removed. In this context, Mr. Trump’s persistent diplomatic outreach appears to be a practical approach in dealing with the Korean nuclear crisis.

Two challenges

Mr. Kim has in principle agreed on denuclearisation. When negotiating teams of both countries sit down to address this issue, they are likely to face two key challenges.

One is the historic mistrust between the two nations. North Korea, especially, believes that they were betrayed by the U.S. several times beginning the Korean war. In the 1990s, North Korea and the U.S. (Clinton administration) had signed the ‘Agreed Framework’ to freeze the North’s nuclear activities. But Pyongyang pulled out of it when the George W. Bush administration turned hostile towards it. So the North needs guarantee that another administration would not turn against it even if it reaches an agreement with President Trump.

Two, Mr. Trump’s other foreign policy decisions would hardly assure the North Koreans. He pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, which his predecessor Barack Obama had signed with Tehran and other world powers. Iran agreed to scuttle its nuclear programme under the agreement in return for the lifting of sanctions. The Trump administration is now on a warpath with Iran, with U.S.-imposed sanctions squeezing the country.

For the North Korean regime, its nuclear weapons are its greatest insurance against a potential regime change war. While Mr. Trump’s diplomatic outreach keeps the possibility for a deal alive, he may have to address the contradictions in his foreign policy doctrine to clinch it.

Six dead, 50 children wounded in Taliban car bomb explosion

Five schools damaged in the blast, says Afghan Ministry

Caught in the crossfire: Wounded people receiving treatment in a hospital in Kabul on Monday.AP

At least six people were killed and dozens, including 50 children, wounded on Monday when the Taliban detonated a powerful car bomb in , officials said — the latest deadly attack in one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a child.

Save the Children led international condemnation of the blast targeting a Defence Ministry building, which sent a plume of smoke into the air during rush hour and shook buildings nearly 2 km away.

Gunmen then stormed a nearby building, triggering a gun battle with special forces in the Puli Mahmood Khan neighbourhood of the Afghan capital.

At least six people were killed, including one child and two special forces, said Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.

The Health Ministry put the wounded toll at 116 people. Among the injured were 50 children, officials said, adding that most had been hurt by flying glass and were in stable condition.

Mr. Rahimi said all five gunmen and the driver of the car had been killed, and a clearing operation was over.

Some social media images purportedly taken at a hospital showed wounded, stunned children in school uniforms, still clutching books as they arrived for treatment.

Five schools were damaged in the blast, the Education Ministry said.

12 JuD, Jaish members jailed for terror funding

They were arrested in Punjab province

The anti-terrorism courts in Pakistan’s Punjab province have handed down up to five years imprisonment to 12 members of the banned Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) on the charges of terrorism financing.

According to the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab Police, it arrested the JuD and JeM members some time ago on the charges of terror financing and presented them before anti-terrorism courts of different districts of Punjab for trial.

“The ATCs sentenced four leaders of JuD — Asghar Ali, Junaid Irshad and Ijaz Ahmad of Rawalpindi and Abdul Khaliq of Rahim Yar Khan — for two years each imprisonment with fines,” the CTD said in a statement here on Monday.

The Hafiz Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the Mumbai attacks. It had been declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the U.S. in June 2014.

The statement said that eight local leaders of JeM have been convicted by ATCs for a term of up to five years.

The JeM had claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir that left 40 CRPF personnel dead, increasing tensions between India and Pakistan.

Russian Opposition leader sentenced to 10 days in prison

Navalny had taken part in a protest in support of a journalist

Alexei Navalny

A court on Monday sentenced Russian Opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 10 days in prison for taking part in a protest in support of a journalist last month.

“Navalny got 10 days,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter. Prosecutors accuse Mr. Navalny of breaking Russia’s strict protest laws during the June 12 rally.

“Ten days for a protest against lawlessness,” Mr. Navalny tweeted after the ruling.

“If we remain silent and stay at home, the lawlessness will never stop,” he added

Mr. Navalny was one of more than 400 people detained when the police sought to break up the peaceful protest that called for an end of the alleged impunity of law enforcement agencies. He was released several hours later.

The protest was held on a public holiday after the police suddenly dropped trumped-up charges against respected journalist Ivan Golunov. It was initially called to press for the freedom of Mr. Golunov who was released on the eve of the march following several days of public outrage.

Over the last decade, Navalny has emerged as one of the key opponents of President Vladimir Putin, organising some of the biggest anti-Kremlin protests in recent years.

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