Kim terms US 'biggest enemy', calls to develop more nuclear weapons to combat 'hostility'

Agencies
January 9, 2021

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Seoul, Jan 9: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called the United States the "biggest enemy" of his country and vowed to advance the nuclear arsenal of his country unless the US ended what he called its "hostility" to his regime, reported state media.

"Washington's policy against Pyongyang won't change regardless of who is in the White House, adding that an end to its hostile stance will be the key to future relations between the two countries," Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Kim on Friday speaking at the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party.

Kim Jong-un also ordered officials to develop missiles with multiple warheads, underwater-launched nuclear missiles, spy satellites and nuclear-powered submarines, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Kim, who had previously avoided using any provocative words and stayed mum on Joe Biden's victory, on Friday made the first reference to the transition of power in Washington since Biden's election as US president in November.

It came days before Biden's inauguration on January 20, which experts see as aimed at pressuring the incoming administration in Washington, reported Yonhap.

"Our external political activities going forward should be focused on suppressing and subduing the US, the basic obstacle, the biggest enemy against our revolutionary development," KCNA said.

Kim has held three meetings with US President Donald Trump, but denuclearization talks between US and North Korea have made little progress since the no-deal summit between the two leaders in Hanoi in 2019. After this summit, North Korea carried out several short-range missiles and other weapons tests.

In October last year, North Korea displayed what was believed to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile on the ruling party's 75th anniversary.

Meanwhile, Biden earlier said that he would not meet the North Korean leader without preconditions, vowing to pursue 'principled' diplomacy on Pyongyang. He has called Kim a 'thug' and 'dictator', denouncing Trump for giving legitimacy to Kim through summits, reported KCNA.

Referring to the summits with Trump, Kim said the US hostile policy has worsened despite the North's "efforts" and "maximum patience" to reduce tensions in the region.

"The reality shows that we need to strengthen the national defense capabilities without a moment of hesitation to deter the United States' nuclear threats and to bring peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula," KCNA quoted Kim as saying at the party's congress.

Washington has yet to respond to the North's announcement, reported Yonhap.

Meanwhile, during the congress, Kim also unveiled a new economic development plan for the next five years, which centers around self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

The congress which began on Tuesday and is the first in nearly five years was called in the backdrop of continuing calamity, back-to-back typhoons in the summer, a protracted border closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, and global sanctions on its economy.

The previous congress was held in 2016 for four days. 

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Agencies
February 19,2021

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Washington, Feb 19: The US House of Representatives on Thursday (local time) reintroduced a bill that would ban imports from China's Xinjiang region unless it is certified they are not produced with forced labour and allow further sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for abuses against Muslims.

"We have watched in horror as the Chinese government first created, and then expanded a system of extrajudicial mass internment camps targeting Uyghurs and Muslim minorities. We now know the entire XUAR economy is built upon a foundation of forced labour and repression," said Representative Jim McGovern.

According to the Massachusetts Congressman, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would create a "rebuttable presumption" that any goods made in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are made with forced labour and prohibited from entering the United States unless "clear and convincing" evidence is shown to the contrary.

"Many US, international, and Chinese corporations are complicit in the exploitation of forced labour and these products continue to make their way into global supply chains and our country. It is long past time for Congress to act," McGovern added.
Representative Chris Smith from New Jersey, a Republican, said that the US cannot be silent.

"Congress must hold the Chinese government accountable and give a strong voice to the millions of Muslim Uyghurs who are victims of genocide, rape, torture, forced marriages, reeducation camps, and other gross violations of human rights. Chinese authorities had the audacity to deny the existence of mass internment camps and portray them as vocational training centres," he said.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) lied, censored, and used economic coercion to stifle discussion of its crimes. Beijing--which hates and harasses all faiths--has instituted plans to erase the influence of Islam in western China, the Republican representative said.

"The CCP has bulldozed mosques and shrines, severely and unjustly inhibiting the religious practice of Islam, even forcing camp detainees to renounce their faith. Our legislation is desperately needed to show support for the suffering Uyghur community in China," he added.

The bill would prohibit all imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China unless the Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection can certify that the goods being imported to the U.S. are not produced, either wholly or in part, with forced labour and the Commissioner submits to Congress a report outlining such a determination;

The bill would also "Authorize the President to apply targeted sanctions on anyone responsible for the labour trafficking of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities."

The US Department of State, under former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declared that Beijing was committing genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

China possibly carried out "genocide" against Uyghurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang said a commission of the United States Congress in a new report.

China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.

Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community, according to a report.

Genocide is a serious crime under international law and the US government has adopted the term on rare occasions only after extensive documentation.

Some experts said reports of mass surveillance, torture, arbitrary detentions and forced detentions employed by China against Uyghurs amount to "demographic genocide".

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Agencies
February 25,2021

London, Feb 25: Nirav Modi, the diamond merchant wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case, on Thursday lost his legal battle against extradition as a UK judge ruled that he does have a case to answer before the Indian courts.

The 49-year-old appeared via videolink from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London and showed no emotion as District Judge Samuel Goozee handed down his judgment at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.

“I am satisfied on the evidence that a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering is established,” said Judge Goozee, as he read out parts of his judgment in court and concluded that he will send his ruling to the UK's Secretary of State, Priti Patel.

It is the Cabinet minister who is authorised to order an extradition under the India-UK Extradition Treaty and has two months within which to make that decision. The Home Secretary’s order rarely goes against the court’s conclusions, as she has to consider only some very narrow bars to extradition which are unlikely to apply in this case, including the possible imposition of a death penalty.

Whatever the ministerial decision, the losing side – Nirav Modi – has up to 14 days within which to approach the High Court and seek leave to appeal after the Home Secretary’s decision. Any appeal, if granted, will be heard at the Administrative Division of the High Court in London. 

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Agencies
February 25,2021

Joe Biden revokes Donald Trump-era ban on issuance of green cards | World  News – India TV

Washington, Feb 25: President Joe Biden has lifted a freeze on green cards issued by his predecessor during the pandemic that lawyers said was blocking most legal immigration to the United States.

Former President Donald Trump last spring halted the issuance of green cards until the end of 2020 in the name of protecting the coronavirus-wracked job market a reason that Trump gave to achieve many of the cuts to legal immigration that had eluded him before the pandemic.

Trump on December 31 extended those orders until the end of March.

Trump had deemed immigrants a risk to the US labour market and blocked their entry to the United States in issuing Proclamation 10014 and Proclamation 10052.

Biden stated in his proclamation on Wednesday that shutting the door on legal immigrants does not advance the interests of the United States".

To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world," Biden stated in his proclamation.

Most immigrant visas were blocked by the orders, according to immigration lawyers.

As many as 120,000 family-based preference visas were lost largely because of the pandemic-related freeze in the 2020 budget year, according to the American Immigrant Lawyers Association. Immigrants could not bring over family members unless they were US citizens applying for visas for their spouses or children under the age of 21.

It also barred entry to immigrants with employment-based visas unless they were considered beneficial to the national interest such as health care professionals.

And it slammed the door on thousands of visa lottery winners who were randomly chosen from a pool of about 14 million applicants to be given green cards that would let them live permanently in the United States.

The blocked visas add to a growing backlog that has reached 437,000 for family-based visas alone, said California immigration lawyer Curtis Morrison, who represented thousands of people blocked by the freeze.

I'm thrilled for my clients who are now in a position that they can now enter the US," he said. But that backlog will take years if the administration does not take ambitious measures."

A federal judge last year issued a ruling that all but lifted Proclamation 10052 by allowing temporary foreign workers to enter the United States if their employers are members of the US Chamber of Commerce or several other large organisations that represent much of the US economy.

But Proclamation 10014 continued to block thousands of immigrants.

Immigration lawyers said they were surprised Biden did not immediately lift the freeze like he did with Trump's travel ban imposed against people from mostly Muslim-majority countries. As a result, some immigrants blocked by the travel ban found they still could not come to the United States because of the freeze.

Biden's actions come only days after thousands of visa lottery winners at risk of having their visas expire won a court order that put their visas on hold by the judge in the case. Now they will be allowed to use their visas to enter the country.

The United States makes available up to 55,000 visas a year for immigrants whose nationalities are under-represented in the US population. The visas must be used within six months of being obtained.

Meanwhile, Biden has proposed legislation that would limit presidential authority to issue future bans against immigrants.

The president has not said whether there will be any redress for visa lottery winners who lost out because of the pandemic-era policies. But he is calling for the US to increase the number of diversity visas available via the lottery each year from 55,000 to 80,000.

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