North Korea could agree to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on its nuclear weapons program at six-party talks next week, if the US agrees to compensation in return, analysts said yesterday. \nThe third round of talks will be held from June 23 to June 26 in Beijing with few expecting any big breakthroughs because of uncertainties over US presidential elections in November, they said. \n"During the talks there will be a possibility of some movement, but there is not a big chance that there will be a breakthrough," said Cui Ying-jiu, a leading North Korea expert at Peking University. \n"If the United States can agree or can accept that some fuel oil or other aid can be given by other parties, in exchange for North Korea announcing a freeze on its nuclear weapons program and its acceptance of IAEA inspections, then this would be a step forward. \n"This is a possibility." \nCui was speaking after a US official in Washington Tuesday said that the US would not oppose aid concessions to North Korea in exchange for a pledge from Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear weapons program. \n"We're not against a freeze and we're not against people saying if they freeze on the way to dismantlement they might even do something for the North Koreans," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. \n"But it has to be clear that any freeze is a step toward elimination of nuclear programs," he said. \nThe statement appeared to be an adjustment to a US position that has refused any aid to the starving Stalinist nation until its nuclear weapons program is "completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantled." \nEarlier this week, North Korea rejected the US demand for complete disarmament and urged Washington to change its long-standing position. \nIn the last round of talks in February, Pyongyang insisted that any dismantling of its nuclear program must come with simultaneous concessions, namely badly needed food and fuel aid, from the other members of the talks. \nSince then working-level talks have been held in Beijing in May and will reconvene again ahead of the higher vice-ministerial talks that were to begin yesterday. \nSo far China, South Korea and Russia have agreed to the step-by-step approach, while Japan has demanded that North Korea first resolve the thorny issue surrounding the kidnapping of Japanese nationals by North Korean agents in the 1970s. \nThat issue was addressed when Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang last month and brought some of the families of kidnapped victims back to Japan. \n"The Americans would see a freeze [of its nuclear weapons program] and acceptance of IAEA inspections by North Korea as progress," said Paul Harris, an international affairs expert at Hong Kong's Lingnan University.
Sitting in a lotus position, four men weave glittering beads through gold thread on an organza sheet, carefully constructing a wedding dress that would soon wow crowds at Paris Fashion Week. For once, the French couturier behind the design, Julien Fournie, is determined to put these craftsmen in the spotlight. His new collection, which showed in Paris on Tuesday, was entirely made with fabrics from Mumbai. He said that a sort of “design imperialism” means that French fashion houses often play down that their fabrics are made outside France. “The houses which don’t admit it are perhaps afraid of losing their clientele,” Fournie
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect in the latest mass shooting tragedy in an American community. Captain Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospitals and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people died at the scene in the city of Monterey Park. Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10:30 pm Saturday. He said officers then
INSTABILITY: The country has seen a 33 percent increase in land that cultivates poppies since the military took over the government in 2021, a UN report said The production of opium in Myanmar has flourished since the military’s seizure of power, with the cultivation of poppies up by one-third in the past year, as eradication efforts have dropped and the faltering economy has led more people toward the drug trade, a UN report released yesterday showed. Last year, the first full growing season since the military wrested control of the country from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021, saw a 33 percent increase in Myanmar’s cultivation area to 40,100 hectares, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report said. “Economic, security and governance disruptions