U.S. carrier group heads for Korean waters, China calls for restraint

UNTV News   •   April 24, 2017   •   2681


The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transits the South China Sea while conducting flight operations on April 9, 2017. Z.A. Landers/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint on Monday in a call about North Korea with U.S. President Donald Trump, as Japan conducted joint drills with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.

The carrier group was sent by Trump for exercises in waters off the Korean peninsula as a warning, amid growing fears North Korea could conduct another nuclear test soon in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Angered by the approach of the U.S. carrier group, a defiant North Korea said on Monday the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson was “an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade the North”.

“The United States should not run amok and should consider carefully any catastrophic consequence from its foolish military provocative act,” Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary on Monday.

“What’s only laid for aggressors is dead bodies and deaths,” the newspaper said.

Two Japanese destroyers have already joined the carrier group for drills in the western Pacific, and South Korea said on Monday it was also in talks about holding joint naval exercises.

Washington and its allies fear Pyongyang could be preparing to conduct another nuclear missile test or launch more ballistic missiles.

China is increasingly worried the situation could spin out of control, leading to war and a chaotic collapse of its isolated and poverty-struck neighbor.

Xi told Trump that China resolutely opposes any actions that run counter to U.N. Security Council resolutions, a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.

China “hopes that all relevant sides exercise restraint, and avoid doing anything to worsen the tense situation on the peninsula”, the statement paraphrased Xi as saying.

The nuclear issue can only be resolved quickly with all relevant countries pulling in the same direction, and China is willing to work with all parties, including the United States, to ensure peace, Xi said.

The issue has gained added urgency as North Korea prepares to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday. It has marked similar events in the past with nuclear tests or missile launches.

“REPEATED PROVOCATION”

Earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described his conversation with Trump as a “thorough exchange of views”.

“We agreed to strongly demand that North Korea, which is repeating its provocation, show restraint,” Abe told reporters.

“We will maintain close contact with the United States, keep a high level of vigilance and respond firmly,” he said.

Abe also said he and Trump agreed that China, North Korea’s sole major ally, should play a large role in dealing with Pyongyang.

A Japanese official said the phone call between Trump and Abe was not prompted by any specific change in the situation.

The U.S. government has not specified where the carrier strike group is, but U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday it would arrive “within days”.

South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun gave no further details about the South’s plans, other than saying Seoul was holding discussions with the U.S. Navy.

“I can say the South Korean and U.S. militaries are fully ready for North Korea’s nuclear test,” Moon said.

South Korean and U.S. officials have feared for some time that North Korea could soon carry out its sixth nuclear test.

Satellite imagery analyzed by 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, found some activity under way at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site last week.

However, the group said it was unclear whether the site was in a “tactical pause” before another test or was carrying out normal operations.

Adding to the heightened tensions, North Korea detained a U.S. citizen on Saturday as he attempted to leave the country.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by Takashi Umekawa and Linda Sieg in TOKYO, James Pearson in SEOUL, Philip Wen in BEIJING, and Steve Holland in WASHINGTON; Editing by Paul Tait)

Trump to give TikTok’s Chinese owner 45 days to reach deal to sell — sources

UNTV News   •   August 3, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of popular short-video app TikTok to Microsoft Corp, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday (August 2).

U.S. officials have said TikTok under its Chinese parent poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. Trump said on Friday (July 31) he was planning to ban TikTok in the United States after dismissing the idea of a sale to Microsoft.

But following a discussion between Trump and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the Redwood, Washington-based company said in a statement on Sunday that it would continue negotiations to acquire TikTok from ByteDance, and that it aimed to reach a deal by Sept. 15.

It was not immediately clear what changed Trump’s mind. Banning TikTok would alienate many of its young users ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November, and would likely trigger a wave of legal challenges. Several prominent Republican lawmakers put out statements in the last two days urging Trump to back a sale of TikTok to Microsoft.

The negotiations between ByteDance and Microsoft will be overseen by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a U.S. government panel that has the right to block any agreement, according to the sources, who requested anonymity ahead of a White House announcement. Microsoft cautioned in its statement that there is no certainty a deal will be reached. (Reuters)

(Production: Bob Mezan)

Pyongyang disinfects the city after North Korea introduced tougher curbs against coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 29, 2020

North Korea’s state-run television on Tuesday (July 28) released a video of Pyongyang workers disinfecting the city as the state introduced tougher curbs against the coronavirus, after it locked down the town Kaesong, on the border with the South, to tackle what could be its first publicly confirmed infection.

Strict quarantine measures and the screening of districts were in progress and test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, the North’s KCNA state news agency said.

The measures come after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency on Sunday (July 26) after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of COVID-19, KCNA reported.

Reclusive North Korea had reported testing 1,211 people for the virus as of July 16 with all returning negative results, the World Health Organisation said in a statement sent to Reuters. The report said 696 nationals were under quarantine. (Reuters)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

North Korea’s Kim says there will be no more war thanks to nuclear weapons

UNTV News   •   July 28, 2020

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said there will be no more war as the country’s nuclear weapons guarantee its safety and future despite unabated outside pressure and military threats, state media reported on Tuesday (July 28).

Kim made the remarks as he celebrated the 67th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which fell on July 27, with a reception for veterans, the North’s state-run television KRT said.

The country developed nuclear weapons to win “absolute strength” to stave off another armed conflict, Kim said in a speech carried by state media, emphasizing the defensive nature of the programs.

The speech came amid stalled talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for sanctions relief from Washington.

Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump met for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, raising hopes for a negotiated end to North Korea’s nuclear threats. But their second summit, in 2019 in Vietnam, and subsequent working-level meetings fell apart. (Reuters)

(Production: Minwoo Park)

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