27 Apr, 2018

Korean leaders aim for end of war, ‘complete denuclearisation’

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in embraced after pledging on Friday to work for the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” punctuating a day of smiles and handshakes at the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.

The two Koreas announced they would work with the United States and China this year to declare an official end to the 1950s Korean war and seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace in its place.

The declaration included promises to pursue phased military arms reduction, cease hostile acts, transform their fortified border into a peace zone, and seek multilateral talks with other countries including the United States.

“The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the declaration said.

Earlier, Kim became the first North Korean leader since the 1950-53 Korean War to set foot in South Korea after shaking hands with his counterpart over a concrete curb marking the border in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between the countries.

Scenes of Moon and Kim joking and walking together marked a striking contrast to last year’s barrage of North Korean missile tests and its largest ever nuclear test that led to sweeping international sanctions and fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula.

Their dramatic meeting comes weeks before Kim is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in what would be the first ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries.

Moon agreed to visit Pyongyang later this year, according to the declaration.

As part of efforts to reduce tensions, the two sides agreed to open a liaison office, stop propaganda broadcasts and leaflet drops along the border, and allow Korean families divided by the border to meet.

Just days before the summit, Kim said North Korea would suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantle its only known nuclear test site.

But there was widespread scepticism about whether Kim is ready to abandon the nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades as what it says is a necessary deterrent against U.S. invasion.

It’s not the first time leaders of North and South Korea have declared their hope for peace, and two earlier summits, in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007, failed to halt the North’s weapons programs or improve relations in a lasting way.

“We will make efforts to create good results by communicating closely, in order to make sure our agreement signed today before the entire world, will not end as just a beginning like previous agreements before today,” Kim said after the agreement was signed.

FIRST ACROSS THE LINE

Earlier, Moon greeted Kim at the military demarcation line where the men smiled and shook hands.

In an unplanned move, Kim invited Moon to step briefly across into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.

“I was excited to meet at this historic place and it is really moving that you came all the way to the demarcation line to greet me in person,” Kim said, wearing his customary black Mao suit.

“A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history,” Kim wrote in Korean in a guest book in the South’s Peace House before talks began.

Minutes before Kim entered Peace House, a North Korean security team conducted a sweep for explosives and listening devices, and sprayed what appeared to be disinfectant in the air, on the chairs, and on the guest book.

The two leaders released their joint declaration before attending a dinner hosted by Moon.

During a private meeting in the morning, Kim told Moon he came to the summit to end the history of conflict and joked he was sorry for waking Moon up with his early morning missile tests, the official said.

UNENDING HOSTILITIES

The United States is hopeful talks will make progress on achieving peace and prosperity, the White House said in a statement as the two men began their summit.

The White House also said it looks forward to continuing discussions with South Korea in preparation for the planned meeting of Trump and Kim in the coming weeks.

Just months ago, Trump and Kim were trading threats and insults as the North made rapid advances in pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles capable of hitting the United States.

Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Cold War conflict, which pitted the South, the United States and United Nations forces against the communist North, backed by China and Russia.

Kim and Trump are expected to meet in late May or June, with Trump saying on Thursday he was considering several possible dates and venues.

The latest Korean summit has particular significance not least because of its venue: the Demilitarized Zone, a 160-mile (260-km) long, 2.5-mile (4-km) wide strip of land created in the 1953 armistice to serve as a buffer between the South and North.

23 Apr, 2018

Royal baby boy: Duchess Kate and Prince William welcome No. 3

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a baby boy.

The child, who was born in the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital, central London, is fifth in line to the throne and the Queen’s sixth great-grandchild.

The new arrival, who is the third child of Catherine and the Duke of Cambridge, was born at 11:01 BST weighing 8lbs 7oz.

A Kensington Palace statement said Catherine and her new son are “both doing well”
William was present for the birth, the palace added.

The statement added that members of both families had been informed and were “delighted with the news”.

The duchess was admitted to hospital shortly before 6:00 on Monday with the announcement of the birth coming shortly after 13:00.

Senior royal doctors consultant obstetrician Guy Thorpe-Beeston and consultant gynaecologist Alan Farthing oversaw the birth.
Both were also called in for the arrival of Prince George in 2013 and Princess Charlotte in 2015.

The name of the new child has not yet been announced.

Favourite names at the bookmakers include Mary, Alice, Alexandra, Elizabeth and Victoria for a girl and Arthur, Albert, Frederick, James and Philip for a boy.

(BBC)

14 Apr, 2018

Nation celebrates Bangla New Year

The country is celebrating Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bengali New Year 1425, today, Saturday, upholding the rich cultural values and rituals of the Bangalis to find out their root and march forward to build a prosperous Bangladesh.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to join the ‘Nabo Barsho’ festivities across the country.

Pahela Baishakh is one of the most colourful festivals through which the Bangalis bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new year.

On this occasion, people from all walks of life wear traditional Bengali dresses. Young women wear white sarees with red borders and adorn themselves with bangles, flowers, and tips, while men wear white pyjamas and panjabi or kurta.

At an inter-ministerial meeting held recently, cultural affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor said, Pahela Baishakh is an integral part of Bangali culture. The Bangalis are celebrating the Pahela Baishakh as a universal and non-communal festival for a long period of time, he added.

He said the government will expand the traditional Mangal Shobhajatra, a procession brought on the first day of Bengali New Year, to town and village levels to make the tradition more ceremonious and gorgeous.

We are very proud as ‘Mongol Shovajatra’ got UNESCO recognition as world heritage, the minister added.

The government has drawn up an elaborate programme. The traditional Mongol Shovajatra will be brought out at divisional, district and upazila levels to reach the traditional programme to the grassroots as it earned the international recognition.

Business communities, especially in the rural areas, are ready to open their traditional ‘Halkhata’, new account books, while sweets will be distributed among customers to mark the day.

President Abdul Hamid and prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages greeting the countrymen on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh.

In separate messages on the eve of Pahela Baishakh-1425, they wished peace, happiness and prosperity of the people and the country in the New Year.

The president, in his message, said Bangla Nababarsha is a universal and non-communal cultural festival of the Bengali nation for a long.

In her message, prime minister Sheikh Hasina said the nation starts the first day of Bengali New Year with the hope of progress of life forgetting all shortcomings and sorrows.

She wished that the Bengali New Year 1425 would bring happiness, peace and progress for the country.

The day is a public holiday.

Different national dailies will publish colourful supplements while Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar will air special programmes highlighting the significance of Pahela Baishakh.

Bangladesh Shilpokala Academy has taken a three-day programme to welcome the New Year.

Different government and non-government organisations, socio-cultural platforms including Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Folk Arts and Craft Foundation, Dhaka University, Jatiya Press Club and Dhaka Reporters Unity have chalked out various programmes to observe the Pahela Baishakh.

The programmes of the day will begin in the city with the musical soiree of Chhayanat, a leading cultural organisation of the country at Ramna Batamul at dawn.

Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and private television channels will live broadcast the programme.

Rabindranath Tagore’s famous drama ‘Chitrangada’ was staged at the Shilpakala Academy on Friday and it will be staged today, Saturday, on the occasion of the observance of the Bangla Nabobarsho.

On the occasion of Pahela Baishakh, Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigoshthi has taken various programmes including music, dance and drama.

Swapnadal, a theatre group, has taken a two-day programme to welcome the Bangla New Year. The programmes include rally, discussion, dance and music.

As part of the two-day programme, artistes, leaders and members of the Swapnadal will attend the Mongol Shovajatra, the traditional procession which will be brought out by teachers and students of Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka university.

The city people will start the day with the traditional breakfast of ‘panta bhat’ (soaked rice), green chilly, onion and fried fish at Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Uddyan, Dhaka University Campus, Rabindra Sarobor at Dhanmondi and other amusement places.

Important buildings and establishments as well as city streets and islands will be illuminated with colourful lights and graffiti have been painted in the walls signifying the arts, culture and heritage of the country.

A 10-day Baishakhi Mela is set to begin at Bangla Academy on Saturday on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh.

As part of the programmes to celebrate Pahela Baishakh, National Museum organised a cultural function on Bangali culture at the Poet Sufiya Kamal auditorium. Singer Shama Rahman performed at the function.