Donald Trump open to talks with North Korea while keeping up ‘maximum pressure’ campaign

US President Donald Trump told his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in a phone call that the US would be open to talks with North Korea while continuing to maintain a “maximum pressure” campaign against Pyongyang aimed at halting its nuclear and missile programmes. During the call on Wednesday, Moon briefed Trump on the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting between North and South Korea, the first such inter-Korean dialogue in more than two years, and thanked Trump for his…

Malaysia signs US$50 million deal with exploration firm to find missing MH370, but will only pay up if aircraft is found

Malaysia signed a deal on Wednesday to pay a US seabed exploration firm up to US$50 million if it finds the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft MH370 in a new search area in the Southern Indian Ocean.
The disappearance of the aircraft en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 with 239 people aboard ranks among the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.
Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless AUD$200 million (US$157 million) search of an area of 120,000 sq km in January last…

With North and South Korea talking again, should the US be worried?

North Korea is starting off the new year with a fresh diplomatic initiative aimed at wooing South Korea ahead of next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. But it is sticking to a decidedly harsh and familiar message for US President Donald Trump: back off and let Koreans solve their own problems. After its first talks with the South in more than two years, the North said that it would not discuss its nuclear weapons with Seoul because they were aimed only at the United States, not…

Press freedom fears grow in Suu Kyi’s Myanmar as Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo face trial over secrecy laws

Myanmar is set to put two reporters from the Reuters news agency on trial this week after they were charged under a colonial-era state secrets act, in a case that highlights growing concerns about press freedom in the country.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested December 12 for allegedly acquiring “important secret papers” from two police officers. The officers had worked in Rakhine state, where abuses widely blamed on Myanmar’s military have driven hundreds of thousands of…

Pakistan releases 147 Indians who were jailed for illegal fishing

A Pakistani official said 147 Indians detained for fishing illegally have been released from prison and handed over to Indian authorities.
The South Asian rivals often arrest fishermen suspected of trespassing in their territorial waters and then periodically release large numbers of them in what are billed as goodwill gestures.
Photographs show the men kissing the ground after making it past the Pakistan-India border. The cost of repatriating the men is being paid for by the Edhi Foundation,…

Philippines vice-president derides ‘self-serving’ idea to cancel polls, extend terms as Duterte eyes federalism shift

The Philippines’ vice-president has joined a chorus of opposition to a possible cancellation of midterm elections and extensions to terms in office, including the president’s, amid a renewed push for a shift to federalism.
President Rodrigo Duterte is keen to follow through on his election campaign promise to introduce federalism, saying it would be more equitable for Filipinos and would bring peace and development, especially in the country’s restive south.
House Speaker and…

Are US and China sincere partners in disarming North Korea?

Nothing is a bigger threat to world peace since the defeat of Nazism in the second world war than North Korea’s missile and nuclear programme.
And nothing would be a bigger failure of post-war global diplomacy than if a seemingly united world failed to stop a rogue state from making trouble.
This became evident when North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un declared his ambitious nuclear force was complete, after a decade-long cat-and-mouse game with the world. The defiant leader brought in the…