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MONDAY 28 MAY 2018,



Trump and Kim revive prospect for

summit after days of brinkmanship


North Korean leader

Kim Jong Un is committed to

“complete” denuclearization of

the Korean peninsula and to a

landmark summit with US Presi-

dent Donald Trump, South Ko-

rea’s leader said on Sunday, as

Trump announced that plans for

the meeting are moving along

“very nicely”.

The latest conciliatory dec-

larations capped a turbulent few

days of diplomatic brinkmanship

that had sent tensions soaring.

Trump rattled a saber on

Thursday by cancelling the

planned June 12 meeting with

Kim in Singapore, citing “open

hostility” from Pyongyang.

But within 24 hours he re-

versed course, saying it could

still go ahead after productive

talks were held with North Ko-

rean officials.

“It’s moving along very nice-

ly,” Trump told reporters when

asked for an update. “We’re look-

ing at June 12 in Singapore. That

hasn’t changed.”



sparked a surprise meeting on

Saturday between Kim and South

Korean President Moon Jae-in —

only the fourth time leaders from

the two countries have ever met

— as they scrambled to get the

talks back on track.

Pictures showed them shak-

ing hands and embracing on the

North Korean side of the Demili-

tarized Zone separating the two


Moon said Kim reached out

to him to arrange the hasty meet-

This photograph taken on Saturday and released on Sunday shows South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, right,

shaking hands with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un after their second summit at the north side of the truce

village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).


Pyongyang committed to ‘complete’ denuclearization, says Seoul

Imran Khan eyes win as Pakistan

holds general elections on July 25


Pakistani crick-

et star-turned-politician Imran

Khan’s party vowed Sunday to

oust the country’s “corrupt” rul-

ers, as the nuclear-armed state

announced it will hold general

elections on July 25.

The poll will bring to a head

political tensions that have been

building since former Prime

Minister Nawaz Sharif was oust-

ed by the Supreme Court on cor-

ruption charges and later barred

from politics for life.

Khan is hoping to achieve a

years-long dream of leading the

country as its prime minister,

and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

(PTI) party is the main challeng-

er to the ruling Pakistan Muslim

League-Nawaz (PML-N), which

was headed by Sharif until his


PTI leaders have said they

are confident they will be able to

defeat the PML-N.

“The Pakistani nation... can

see the dawn of a new Pakistan,

which will not be ruled by the

corrupt,” the party said in a state-

ment posted Sunday on Twitter

along with a graphic that read

“Mafia’s Game Over”.

“Stop us if you can,” it said in

Pakistan opposition leader and

head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-

Insaf (PTI — Pakistan Movement

for Justice) political party Imran

Khan leaves Parliament after

attending a session in Islamabad

last week.


‘Our families would be killed’: Rohingya brace for monsoon

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh

Marooned on a dusty slope in

the world’s largest refugee camp,

Osiur Rahman looked to the hill

where a Rohingya girl was buried

in a landslide just days earlier and

contemplated his chances should

the earth give way beneath his


“Our families would be killed.

There are children everywhere

around here. We constantly fear

that rain could trigger a land-

slide,” the 53-year-old said on the

steep embankment where he lives

with nine family members in a

bamboo shack.

For the 700,000 Rohingya

Muslims who have fled to south-

east Bangladesh in the past nine

months, the approaching mon-

soon season poses the most seri-

ous threat since they were vio-

lently expelled from Myanmar.

Close to one million of the

stateless Muslim minority live in

the Cox’s Bazar district but the

new arrivals, stranded on un-

stable hills in bamboo and plastic

shacks, are especially vulnerable.

A massive operation to shore

up the camps against disaster is in

overdrive, with bulldozers level-

ing hills and refugees bunkering

down however they can.

But as the rains approach,

the young girl’s death this month

in a torrent of mud and rock has

heightened fears of a much great-

er tragedy.

There is a dearth of safe land

to relocate the estimated 200,000

refugees in direct danger of floods

and landslides, and just 21,000

Rohingya refu-

gee men carry

sand bags in

preparation for

the upcoming

monsoon season

in Kutupalong

refugee camp in

Ukhia, Bangla-

desh, in this

May 7, 2018 file



have been moved so far.

“We could literally have lives

lost as people slide down hillsides

and valleys are flooded with wa-

ter,” Kevin J. Allen, head of the

UNHCR refugee agency’s opera-

tions in Cox’s Bazar, said.

“They could face yet again an-

other emergency, this time driven

by mother nature.”

The camps’ makeshift homes

are predicted to receive more

than 2.5 meters (eight feet) of

rainfall over three months start-

ing June — roughly triple what

Britain gets in a year.

Cox’s Bazar has been battered

by cyclones for three years run-

US signals no change in Venezuela policy

as freed American prisoner meets Trump



Holt, who traveled to Venezu-

ela from Utah in 2016 to marry a

Spanish-speaking Mormon wom-

an but soon found himself jailed

and later branded the CIA’s top

spy in Latin America, has been set

free by the anti-American Maduro


He says he was “overwhelmed

with gratitude.”

Holt and his wife, Thamara

Caleno, arrived on Saturday eve-

ning at Washington Dulles In-

ternational Airport for a tearful

reunion with his parents, Laurie

and Jason Holt. A few hours later

President Donald Trump wel-

comed them to the White House.

“Those two years, they were

a said an emotional Holt, sitting

next to Trump in the Oval Of-

fice. “Not really the great vacation

that I was looking for ... I’m just

so grateful for what you guys have


To Holt, Trump said: “You’ve

gone through a lot. More than

most people could endure.”

The Utah man’s mother, Lau-

rie Holt, thanked Trump and the

lawmakers for her son’s safe re-

turn, adding: “I also want to say

thank you to President Maduro

for releasing Josh and letting him

US President Donald Trump talks to the media as he greet Josh Holt, an

American missionary who was released by Venezuela, in the Oval Office

of the White House in Washington on Saturday.

— Reuters

ing “without any formality”, a

stunning development given that

the Koreas only reopened a de-

funct hotline between the two

nations last month.

The North Korean leader de-

scribed the Singapore summit as

a landmark opportunity to end

decades of confrontation. “He...

expressed his intention to put

an end to the history of war and

confrontation through the suc-

cess of the North-US summit and

to cooperate for peace and pros-

perity,” Moon said on Sunday.

Moon added that Kim reaf-

firmed his commitment to “com-

plete denuclearization” but was

uncertain “whether he could

trust that the US would end its

hostile policy and guarantee the

security of his regime” if he gave

up those weapons.

Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA

news agency said Kim “ex-

pressed his fixed will” to meet

Trump, adding South and North

Korea would hold another round

of “high-level” talks on June 1.

There was a further signal

of progress Saturday as White

House press secretary Sarah

Sanders confirmed a team of US

officials was leaving for Singa-

pore “in order to prepare should

the summit take place”.

Trump’s original decision

to abandon the summit initially

blindsided South Korea, which

had been brokering a remarkable

detente between Washington

and Pyongyang in a desperate

bid to avoid a devastating con-


Last year Trump and Kim

were trading war threats and in-

sults after Pyongyang tested its

most powerful nuclear weapon

to date and missiles which it said

were capable of reaching the US


Tensions were calmed after

Kim extended an olive branch

by offering to send a delegation

to the Winter Olympics in South

Korea, sparking a rapid detente

that led to Trump agreeing to

hold direct talks with Pyong-


But the flurry of diplomatic

backslapping and bonhomie dis-

appeared in recent weeks with

increasingly bellicose rhetoric

from both top US administration

officials and Pyongyang.

There are still stark differ-

ences between what the two

sides hope to achieve.

Washington wants North Ko-

rea to give up all its nukes in a

verifiable way as quickly as pos-

sible in return for sanctions and

economic relief.

Pyongyang has a different

view of what denuclearization

might look like and remains

deeply worried that abandon-

ing its deterrent would leave the

country vulnerable to regime





dig in as

more killed


Hundreds of

protesters dug in around Nicara-

gua on Saturday, blocking roads

as at least eight more people

were killed in a 24-hour period.

Unrest has resumed since

weeklong church-mediated talks

between the government and

opposition to quell a month of

violence broke down late on


Hundreds of demonstrators

in the north, center and south

of the Central American nation

were blocking highways on Sat-

urday, demanding Ortega and

his wife, Vice President Rosario

Murillo, stand down.

Since protests began on

April 18 at least 83 people have

been killed and more than 860

wounded, police and rights ac-

tivists say.

Four people were killed on

Friday, and another four by mid-

day on Saturday, police and fam-

ily members said.

Ortega, a former Sandini-

sta guerrilla who first ruled be-

tween 1979 and 1990 before re-

turning as president 11 years ago,

had kept power by maintaining

leftist rhetoric while ensuring

an accommodation with power-

ful private industry and keeping

up trade with the United States.

But demonstrators have

voiced frustration over corrup-

tion, the autocratic style of Orte-

ga and Murillo, limited options

to change the country’s politics

in elections, and the president’s

control over Congress, the

courts, the military and the elec-

toral board.


another tweet.

The bullish comments came

after Pakistan’s president Mam-

noon Hussain on Saturday ap-

proved July 25 as the date for

the elections, which offer the

prospect of what would be only

the second-ever democratic

transfer of power in the South

Asian country. The current gov-

ernment, led by Prime Minister

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, is ex-

pected to hand over power to a

caretaker administration in the

coming days.

Despite Sharif’s ouster, the

ruling party says it has invested

in improving Pakistan’s rick-

ety infrastructure and attracted

billions of dollars in Chinese

investment. It has also denied

allegations of graft against its

leadership by opponents like


PTI has vowed to fight cor-

ruption, presenting itself as a

polar opposite of what it calls

status-quo politicians.

Since he was ousted, Sharif

and the PML-N have become

increasingly vocal in their con-

frontation with the country’s

powerful military establishment

and the courts, claiming there is

a conspiracy afoot to reduce the

party’s power.




Askari said PTI was heading into

the election with momentum

on its side, but stopped short of

predicting a win at the polls that

would allow the party to form a



ning, having already suffered as-

tonishing devastation in the past.

Cyclones have killed tens

of thousands along the Bangla-

desh coast in recent decades and

countless more have been swept

to their deaths in floods and land-

slides. This time, nature is on a

collision course with refugees

who have nowhere to run — no

higher ground and no cyclone


The first storms underscored

the fragility of the camps: the

brief rains turned roads into quag-

mires, crumbled hillsides and

flooded low-lying areas.

The huge endeavour to pre-

vent disaster has seen slopes vul-

nerable to collapse flattened and

extensive canal systems carved

throughout the camps.


to come home.”

Their release came one day

after Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.,

held a surprise meeting in Cara-

cas with Venezuelan President

Nicolas Maduro, who the Trump

administration says runs a “dicta-

torship” and just won re-election

in a “sham” vote. Trump, in a

tweet, described Holt as a “hos-

tage.” The US contended Holt

was held on trumped up charges.

Months of secret, backchan-

nel talks between an aide to Cork-

er, chairman of the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee, and close

allies of Maduro preceded their

return. Yet Holt’s release had

seemed unlikely even a week ago.



tions Minister, Jorge Rodriguez,

said their release was a goodwill

gesture that followed months of

dialogue between the Maduro

government and US lawmakers.