Khamis, 17 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: World Updates

Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: World Updates

Panama to send detained North Korean crew, ship home - minister


PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - The North Korean crew and ship detained in Panama for smuggling Cuban weapons three months ago will soon be returned to the reclusive Asian nation, Panama's foreign minister said Thursday.

The crew's return would mark the end of a bizarre chapter between the three countries that provoked international controversy after the ship was seized in July for smuggling military-style arms under 10,000 tons of sugar.

Repairs to the ship are nearly completed so the crew can sail back in the same vessel, Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez Fabrega told Reuters.

While the U.N. Security Council has yet to decide on penalties against Cuba, given a 7-year-old ban against arms transfers to North Korea due to the country's nuclear weapons program, the arms will likely be sold or given away, Nunez Fabrega added.

In July, the North Korean crew sabotaged its electrical system and bilge pumps after Panamanian investigators stopped the ship near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal on suspicion it was carrying drugs after leaving Cuba.

The North Korean flagged ship, known as the Chong Chon Gang, will be returned after the vessel's owner formally signs off on the plan, Nunez Fabrega said.

Panama has issued visas for two North Korean diplomats to arrive shortly and complete the procedure.

Meanwhile, 33 of the 35 crew members, held at a former U.S. army base on charges of threatening Panama's security, "appear to be ignorant of what was in the cargo", Nunez Fabrega said.

"As a result, if the Attorney General determines they are not criminally responsible for their actions, they cannot be prosecuted," he said.

Both the captain, who tried to slit his throat after Panamanian investigators seized the ship, and his deputy consistently refused to give statements during their detention, officials said. As a result, they might still face trial.

The whole crew refused efforts to put them in contact with their families, said Nunez Fabrega.

"Their families in North Korea must think they sunk with the boat," he said.

After the ship was seized, Havana requested that Panama release it, claiming the vessel carried only the sugar cargo as a donation to the people of North Korea.

But once the arms were discovered beneath the sugar, the Cuban government acknowledged it was sending "obsolete" Soviet-era weapons, including two MiG jets, 15 MiG engines and nine anti-aircraft missiles, to be repaired in North Korea and returned.

An analysis by 38 North, a website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Maryland, found the weapons shipment was larger than Cuba acknowledged and that many of the weapons were in "mint condition".

The analysis concluded the arms were intended for North Korea's own use.

Inspections of the equipment show they were "obviously not obsolete" as Cuba maintained, said Nunez Fabrega.

"One of the jets had kerosene in them, showing it was recently used," he said. "Of the 15 jet engines, 10 were in immaculate condition."

Since then, Panama has had "zero" communication with Havana, although it made at least four attempts. Havana also cancelled a scheduled meeting between government officials from both countries at the United Nations last month.

"It was like talking to a brick wall," Nunez Fabrega said.

A six-member U.N. team inspected the weapons in August but still seeks answers from Cuba about the shipment to provide a U.N. sanctions committee a full report.

(Reporting by Lomi Kriel; Editing by David Alire Garcia, Simon Gardner and Ken Wills)

Japanese cabinet minister, lawmakers visit shrine to war dead


TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese internal affairs minister Yoshitaka Shindo and more than 100 other lawmakers visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine for war dead on Friday, a move likely to anger Asian victims of Japan's past aggression.

The visits came a day after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made his third ritual offering to the shrine since returning to office in December. Abe has not visited the shrine in person to avoid further straining ties with China and South Korea.

China's Foreign Ministry admonished Abe on Thursday, telling him not to go there in person out of respect for China and "other victimized countries". South Korea also expressed its disappointment.

Similar rebukes can be expected after Friday's visits, which included 157 lawmakers and took place during the shrine's autumn festival that lasts until Sunday.

"I visited the shrine in a private capacity," Shindo said, noting that his grandfather is among the thousands of war dead honoured there.

"I do not think this will become a diplomatic issue."

As well as Japan's war dead, Yasukuni also honours Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal, making it a painful reminder to nations that suffered from Japanese aggression in the 20th century.

Deputy chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference that he was among those who went to the shrine.

"I think that it's only natural to pray for the repose of the souls of people who have given their precious lives for the nation," Kato said.

Sino-Japanese ties have been overshadowed for years by what China says has been Japan's refusal to admit to atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in China between 1931 and 1945.

Memories of a brutal Japanese occupation also remain strong in South Korea, where the Foreign Ministry expressed "deep concern and regret" that Abe had made his ritual offering.

Ties with China have been fraught for months because of a territorial dispute over islets in the East China Sea, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

Japan's relations with South Korea have also cooled over a separate territorial dispute.

Shindo, who visited Yasukuni on August 15, the anniversary of the end of World War Two, is one of two cabinet ministers who were considering visiting the shrine during the autumn festival.

Abe is seen as a hawkish nationalist with a conservative agenda that includes revising the post-war pacifist constitution, strengthening Japan's defence posture and recasting wartime history with a less apologetic tone.

He has said he regretted not visiting the shrine when he was prime minister in 2006-2007.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies and Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Paul Tait)

Bushfires ravage communities in SE Australia


WINMALEE, Australia, Oct 17, 2013 (AFP) - Residents faced scenes of devastation Friday after bushfires ravaged communities and destroyed "hundreds" of homes in southeastern Australia with dozens of blazes still burning out of control.

Cooler temperatures and a drop in wind offered firefighters some relief overnight but about 100 fires were still raging across the state of New South Wales with a smoke haze hanging over Sydney.

NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said that despite the cooler conditions the situation was still "very active, very dynamic, very dangerous".

"The situation is very subject to change," he told the Nine Network, adding that 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) had been burnt out so far.

Five major blazes fanned by high, erratic winds in unseasonably warm 34 degree Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) weather ripped through communities in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney on Thursday with whole streets razed.

One fatality has been reported so far.

Hundreds of residents spent the night in evacuation centres and awoke Friday to confront the extent of the disaster.

Winmalee resident Jordie Cox said it had been a frightening experience.

"I've lived in Winmalee since I was four and my parents always said to us during fire season that our house would be safe because we were surrounded by other houses so others would have to burn down before it got to us," she told ABC television.

"But we were pretty much the last house standing - all the houses around us burnt down."

Ron Fuller was one of those who lost his home in Winmalee, a town with a population of about 6,000 and located 80 kilometres (50 miles) inland from Sydney.

"We've had a number of fires through here before but this was an extraordinary fire. The speed was extraordinary, it just raced through this whole area, took out some houses, left other ones standing," he told the broadcaster.

In a tweet, the Rural Fire Service said crews would be assessing the damage across the state street by street during Friday.

"It appears there may be hundreds of homes destroyed," the service said.

"More properties have come under threat overnight, with further warnings issued. 100 fires across NSW, 36 uncontained."

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell praised the response from fire crews, many of whom are volunteers who battled through the night.

"I think the planning, preparation and response has been some of the best we've seen," he said, calling the fires "some of the worst we have experienced around Sydney in living memory".

"We're in for a long, tough summer," he added.

Wildfires are common in Australia's summer months between December and February, and authorities are expecting a bad season this year due to low rainfall in the winter and forecasts of hot, dry weather ahead.


0 ulasan:

Catat Ulasan


The Star Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved