N Korea refuses to shut down nuke facility
North Korea said on Saturday it would not shut its nuclear facility at Yongbyong until it gets back all its frozen money in a Macau bank.
Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, made the comments as he arrived in Beijing to attend six-nation nuclear dismantlement talks being hosted by China.
The talks are a follow-up on the February 13 breakthrough agreement in which North Korea agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for economic easements.
US financial sanctions against the Banco Delta Asia bank in Macau have been a key obstacle to progress in the six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia.
The sanctions began in September 2005 when Washington accused the bank of handling illicit North Korean funds linked to money laundering, drug trafficking and counterfeit currency.
In a decision taken Wednesday, the US Treasury Department barred Banco Delta Asia from any direct or indirect access to the US financial system, saying the move would lead to the unfreezing of $25 million in North Korean accounts.
China condemned the US move, but US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, visiting Beijing ahead of Saturday, said he believed the move would "not pose a stumbling block" in negotiations with North Korea.
Under the Feb 13 agreement, North Korea has readmitted the International Atomic Energy Agency.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei expressed hope Friday that the UN nuclear watchdog would be able to verify the shutdown of North Korea's nuclear programme before the April 13 deadline set by the UN Security Council.
But the precondition was that financial sanctions against North Korea were lifted.
Archaeologists working in the Yucatan region of Mexico have revealed the remains of a centuries-old Mayan city, local media reported on Friday. The area was first uncovered in 2018 on a construction site for a future industrial park close to the town of Merida on Yucatan's northern coast. Archaeologists from the National Institute for Anthropology and History then took over the site.
Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan who was determined to carry on with his protest until the government announces a fresh election on May 26 ended the Azadi march which reached Islamabad leaving trails of violence and destruction in Punjab, Karachi and Lahore. Addressing his supporters, Imran Khan announced an end to the march and gave a six-day deadline to the government to announce the election.
China and the island nation of Samoa on Saturday signed a deal to strengthen ties amid a flurry of diplomatic activity across a cluster of remote islands in the Pacific Ocean where Canberra, Washington and Beijing have begun to campaign and jostle for influence. The deal signed between visiting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa promised “greater collaboration” between the two countries. Details of the deal remain unclear.
Bangladesh foreign minister AK Abdul Momen on Saturday said that Rohingya refugees staying in his country could turn to extremism and sought help from India and other countries in the region to repatriate them to Myanmar. The session was attended by a host of dignitaries including external affairs minister S Jaishankar, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and ambassadors and high commissioners of several South East Asian countries including Myanmar.
A woman in West Virginia fatally shot a man who began firing an AR-15-style rifle into a crowd of people that had gathered for a party, authorities said. Dennis Butler, 37, was killed Wednesday night after he pulled out the rifle and began shooting at dozens of people attending the birthday-graduation party outside an apartment complex in the city of Charleston, police said in a statement. No one at the party was injured.