US and South Korean officials warned yesterday that next week's six-nation talks on North Korea's suspected nuclear-weapons program were unlikely to produce a fast resolution to the crisis. \nSouth Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan cautioned against high expectations for the Aug. 27 to 29 talks in Beijing where representatives from his country, the US, China, Japan and Russia will try to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. \n"We should not expect that the issue will be resolved after one or two rounds of talks," Yoon said at a news conference. "We can see the Beijing talks as just the beginning of a long process of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue." \nUS Ambassador Thomas Hubbard also warned against hopes for a speedy resolution. \n"We don't enter into talks without some degree of hope and optimism that they will succeed," said Hubbard, who was in Hawaii for a seminar. "But I don't think that we can expect early, quick results." \nThe South Korean minister also urged North Korea "not to take any additional steps that could worsen the situation." \n"It is important that we should make sure that we keep the momentum alive for dialogue and build confidence that we can resolve the matter through dialogue ... and possibly set the date for the next round of talks," Yoon said. \nSouth Korea has already called on North Korea to refrain from raising tensions by test-launching missiles or taking steps toward building nuclear weapons. \nOn Monday, the North threatened to boycott the World University Games in the South because of anti-North Korean protests there. But Pyongyang later said it would send its team after South Korea expressed regret over the demonstrations. \nNorth Korea agreed to the US-proposed multilateral talks on condition that the US hold one-on-one talks with North Korea on the sidelines. \nHowever, yesterday North Korea rejected suggestions that it should open its nuclear facilities to early inspections. \nNorth Korea's official state-run news agency said Washington wanted to form an inspection team from the six countries taking part in the Beijing talks. \n"The Iraqi war proved that consenting to disarmament through inspection does not help prevent a war but sparks it," said the agency. "Inspection is just like a detonating fuse and a prelude to a war ... This act would be little short of opening Pandora's box." \nThe nuclear crisis flared in October when US officials said Pyongyang admitted running a clandestine nuclear weapons program using enriched uranium against a 1994 agreeement.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and