HANOI (Reuters) – North Korea on Thursday denounced planned U.S.-South Korean military drills as a grave danger to the region and criticized new U.S. sanctions as “hostile,” urging Washington to focus instead on restarting nuclear weapons talks.
The comments by a North Korean diplomat in Hanoi at Asia’s largest security forum came a day after the United States announced expanded sanctions against the North and two days after Seoul and Washington unveiled plans for joint military exercises.
HANOI (Reuters) – North Korea looks set to escape explicit rebuke at the Asia-Pacific’s biggest security forum on Friday over the sinking of a South Korean warship despite pressure on Pyongyang to make amends.
Diplomats said the March 26 sinking of the warship Cheonan that killed 46 South Korean sailors featured prominently at a meeting in Hanoi of Southeast Asian foreign ministers and their counterparts from China, South Korea and Japan Wednesday.
HANOI (Reuters) – Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbours have told the military government they are concerned over whether elections this year will be free and fair, a senior regional diplomat said on Tuesday.
The United States and Britain have said the general election would be illegitimate if the junta denies a role to thousands of political opponents now in prison. Southeast Asia’s top regional bloc, which follows a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, has been less critical in public.
ANSEONG, South Korea (Reuters) – Despite living on porridge made from grass during the worst years of a North Korean famine, Kim Il-cheol harboured dreams of playing for the national soccer team.
In 2004, the stocky midfielder set up three goals in a single game to help his team take second in a youth tournament in the coastal province of Kangwon.
There may be no bigger question mark hanging over North Korea these days than who will succeed the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, who has ruled with an iron fist since taking over when his dad, the “Great Leader”, died in 1994. Kim is 68 years old and believed to have suffered a stroke in August 2008.
His economy is in a shambles. Food is becoming more scarce. Trade links with the rest of the world are nearly non-existent. And tension on the Korean peninsula is at its highest in decades after the March sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul blames on the Stalinist North.
SEOUL (Reuters) – Given how crazy North Koreans are about soccer, there was never much doubt in Pyongyang that state TV would air the national team’s games in its first World Cup in 44 years, despite questions abroad whether it had the rights.
For North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, though, there may be more at stake than national pride.
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (Reuters) – The United Nations expects Asia’s developing economies to grow about 7 percent this year but a double-dip recession in the developed world could cut that by up to 1 percentage point, an assistant secretary general said on Monday.
“If there is a double dip then one would have to re-think the growth rates to some extent,” U.N. Assistant Secretary General Ajay Chhibber told Reuters.
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (Reuters) – Thai Prime Minsiter Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday that an emergency decree would remain in place for now, but the situation was calm and an election was possible early next year.
Abhisit, in an interview, also said economic growth in the second quarter could exceed 6 percent and full-year growth could be close to 6 percent. He expected no rush by the central bank to raise rates as that would depend on recovery and inflation.
VINH PHUC, Vietnam (Reuters) – Costantino Sambuy, local head of scooter maker Piaggio, opened a plant in Vietnam last June and faced two risks that beset most foreign investors — a dollar shortage in the banking system and the ever-present threat of devaluation of the local currency.
The first, he says he’s skirted by paying in euros whenever possible for imported parts that go into Piaggio’s stylish, upmarket motorbikes. “We are trying to eliminate the dollar from our process, and it’s working,” he said.
Hanoi Catholics held a ceremony last Friday to welcome the man who is expected to become their new archbishop, but for many on hand – priests and faithful alike – it was a moment of sadness. There were no flowers at the altar of Hanoi’s 124-year-old cathedral welcoming Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, 72, to the role of coadjutor bishop. Outside on the steps, several dozen people brandished banners in protest of what his papal appointment represented.