NORTH KOREA: CHINA CALLS US LED MEETING ILLEGAL AND A COLD WAR VESTIGE

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Just a day after Donald Trump and Xi Jinping phone conversation over North Korea, China has strongly objected to a US led meeting in Canada’s Vancouver that called for strict implementation of sanctions imposed on North Korea.

Calling the meeting illegal and a Cold War vestige, a spokesperson of China’s Foreign Office said, “It will only drive a wedge among the international community and undermine the concerted efforts to seek proper settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.”

The US and Canada hosted Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula on 16th January. The meeting was aimed at “the Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Denuclearization of North Korea”, as the US State Department summed it.

Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, said the purpose of the meetings was to improve the effectiveness of the maximum pressure campaign and combat North Korea’s attempts to evade sanctions.

China raised objections over meeting and its participants, the 20 countries of the United Nations Command (UNC) that supported South Korea during the 1950s Korea War, “We all know that the so-called UN Command, as a product of the Cold War era, has long lost its relevance. As initiators of the meeting, the US and Canada co-hosted the meeting under the banner of the so-called UN Command sending states. That is Cold War mentality pure and simple.”

The meeting that excluded China and Russia was attended by 20 nations including the US, Canada, South Korea, Japan, France, Britain, the Philippines, Sweden and Australia and none of them had any trade relation with North Korea last year.

China argued that when no major parties of the Korean peninsula issue were present in the meeting, expecting any solution through it was a futile exercise, questioning the ‘legality and representativeness’ of the meeting.

China also countered the tough message of the military option that the US led meeting sent to North Korea. China’s Foreign Office said on the move, “Only through dialogue, equally addressing the reasonable concerns of all parties, can a way to an effective and peaceful resolution be found.”

Tillerson had warned that the ultimate responsibility for producing a new future lies with North Korea and it can only be achieved by abandoning its current path of pursuing missile and nuclear weapons technologies.

But if the North doesn’t do so and diplomacy fails, it may trigger military confrontation, “We have to recognize that the threat is growing and that if North Korea does not choose the pathway of engagement, discussion, negotiation then they themselves will trigger an option,” Tillerson had added.

The daylong meeting concluded with a joint announcement that a nuclear-armed North Korea was not acceptable and if the country desired a future, it must follow the path of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.

In spite of the international sanctions against its missile and nuclear weapons programme, North Korea successfully test fired many missiles last year including nuclear capable inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and detonated a hydrogen bomb as well.

The country has now declared itself a nuclear power, threatening the world with its recent military advances and its acts like firing missiles over Japan or threatening the US military base at Guam in the Pacific, coupled with its no holds barred war rhetoric, have escalated the tension like never before.

©SantoshChaubey

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MANIPUR BLOCKADE LIFTED: IT IS AS MODI HAD PROMISED

A new BJP government is in place in Manipur. And even before it can prove its majority in the Manipur assembly slated for tomorrow, it has added a feather in its cap, by convincing the United Naga Council (UNC), the body representing the Naga tribal population of Manipur, to lift the economic blockade from midnight that has badly hit the state with supply of essential commodities choked.

During the campaign phase, prime minister Narendra Modi had promised that a BJP government in Manipur will end the blockade within 48 hours of assuming the office. Blaming the state’s Congress government for blockade and governance deficit, Modi had promised to develop the state in 15 months, something that he said the Congress could not do even in 15 years of its rule since 2002.

After taking oath, state’s new chief minister, it seems, took the matter on a priority basis. After a successful tripartite meeting, involving the Government of India, Manipur government and the UNC, the UNC has agreed to lift the economic blockade of national highways in Manipur that it had imposed on November 1, 2016 protesting the then Congress led Manipur government’s decision to create two new districts of Sadar Hills and Jiribam. The UNC demanded a rollback arguing that creation of new districts would affect the interests of the Naga people of the state.

The five months old blockade of the state’s two main highways has restricted its access to Nagaland, Assam and Myanmar and has crippled the delivery of essential items to the north-eastern state. Though a restricted number of supply trucks were allowed to pass every week, these were never enough.

NEW POLITICAL ALIGNMENTS

BJP leader N Biren Singh, along with eight other cabinet ministers, took oath on March 15. He is heading a coalition government of Nagaland People’s Front (NPF), National People’s Party (NPP) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). His government is also supported by an independent MLA, the lone TMC MLA in the house and a Congress MLA who has defected and has been made minister.

A ruling coalition involving Naga parties may have helped in convincing the UNC in taking a swift decision to remove the blockade. The NPF, ruling party of Nagaland and an NDA alliance partner, is now the BJP’s ruling partner in Manipur. Besides NPP, the party that won four seats and has got four ministerial berths in Biren Singh’s cabinet including the post of the deputy chief minister, had also got the UNC support.

Biren Singh’s BJP led coalition government is scheduled to face the trust vote tomorrow. In the 60-member strong Manipur legislative assembly, the ruling Congress party won 28 seats while the BJP got 21 seats in the recently concluded elections. A simple house majority needs support of 31 MLAs. The BJP could garner the required numbers and staked claim to form the government while the Congress’ claims were rejected as it could support them with documentary evidence. The BJP is claiming to have 33 MLAs in its fold now, including 4 each from NPF and NPP, one from LJP and TMC, one independent and one defected from the Congress.

©SantoshChaubey