North Korea says it will cut communication channels with South

In this Jan. 3, 2018 file photo, a South Korean government official communicates with a North Korean officer during a phone call on the dedicated communications hotline at the border village of Panmunjom in Paju, South Korea. North Korea said Tuesday, June 9, 2020, it will cut off all communication channels with South Korea. (AP)
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Updated 09 June 2020

North Korea says it will cut communication channels with South

  • North Korea has slammed South Korea for failing to break away from Washington and for not restoring massive joint economic projects held up by US-led sanctions
  • The leafleting has been a long-running source of tensions between the two Koreas

SEOUL: North Korea said Tuesday it will cut off all communication channels with South Korea as it escalates its pressure on the South for failing to stop activists from floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
The North Korean warning came as relations between the two Koreas have been strained amid a prolonged deadlock in broader nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington. Some experts say North Korea may be deliberately creating tensions to bolster internal unity or launch bigger provocation in the face of persistent US-led sanctions.
The North’s Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday that all cross-border communication lines will be cut off at Tuesday noon. It said it will be “the first step of the determination to completely shut down all contact means with South Korea and get rid of unnecessary things.”
"The South Korean authorities connived at the hostile acts against (North Korea) by the riff-raff, while trying to dodge heavy responsibility with nasty excuses," it said. “They should be forced to pay dearly for this.”
Since last week, North Korea has increasingly expressed its anger over the leafleting by threatening to permanently shut down a liaison office with South Korea and a jointly run factory park, as well as nullify a 2018 inter-Korean tension-reduction agreement. North Korean citizens have also staged a series of mass anti-Seoul public rallies, something the North typically organizes in times of tensions with the outside world.
North Korea has in recent months suspended virtually all cooperation with South Korea as its nuclear negotiations with the United States remains stalemated since the breakdown of a summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in early 2019. A main sticking point in the US-North Korea diplomacy is a US refusal to lift much of crippling international sanctions on North Korea in return for limited denuclearization steps.
North Korea has slammed South Korea for failing to break away from Washington and for not restoring massive joint economic projects held up by US-led sanctions. Inter-Korean relations flourished in 2018, when Kim entered talks on the future of his nuclear weapons.
South Korea had no immediate response to the North Korean announcement. But it has recently said it would push for new legal steps to ban activists from launching leaflets in an attempt to save faltering ties with North Korea. But the North has countered the South Korean response lacks sincerity.
The leafleting has been a long-running source of tensions between the two Koreas. In recent years, North Korean defectors and conservative activists have floated huge balloons carrying leaflets criticizing Kim Jong Un over his nuclear ambitions and abysmal human rights record. The North, which bristles at any outside attempt to undermine the Kim leadership, has often made a furious response to the South Korean government for failing to stop them . In 2014, North Korean troops opened fire at propaganda balloons flying toward their territory, triggering an exchange of fire that caused no known causalities.
South Korea has typically let activists launch such balloons, citing their rights to exercise freedom of speech, but it sometimes sent police officers to stop them from floating leaflets in times of tensions with North Korea.


Namibia rejects German genocide reparations offer

Updated 8 min 2 sec ago

Namibia rejects German genocide reparations offer

  • German occupiers in Namibia killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 massacres
  • Germany has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations, citing millions of euros in development aid to the Namibian government

WINDHOEK: Namibia’s President Hage Geingob on Tuesday said reparations offered by Germany for mass killings in its then colony at the start of the twentieth century were “not acceptable” and needed to be “revised.”
German occupiers in Namibia killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 massacres, which historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century.
In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology by Germany as well as development aid.
Geingob on Tuesday was briefed by his government’s special envoy Zed Ngavirue on the status of negotiations.
The briefing took place ahead of a final round of talks for which a date has yet to be set.
“The current offer for reparations made by the German government remains an outstanding issue and is not acceptable to the Namibian government,” Geingob said in a statement after the briefing, adding that Ngavirue had been asked to “continue with negotiations for a revised offer.”
No details were provided on the offer.
The president also noted that Germany had declined to accept the term “reparations,” as that word was also avoided during the country’s negotiations with Israel after the Holocaust.
Ngavirue rejected Germany’s reference to reparations as “healing the wounds” and said the terminology would be subject to further debate, according to the statement.
Berlin was not immediately available for comment on the claims.
Germany has acknowledged that atrocities occurred at the hands of its colonial authorities and some officials have even recognized it as a genocide.
But the country has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations, citing millions of euros in development aid to the Namibian government.
Namibia was called German South West Africa during Germany’s 1884-1915 rule, and then passed under South African rule for 75 years, finally gaining independence in 1990.
Tensions boiled over in 1904 when the Herero rose up, followed by the Nama, in an insurrection crushed by German imperial troops.
In the Battle of Waterberg in August 1904, around 80,000 Herero fled including women and children.
German troops went after them across what is now known as the Kalahari Desert. Only 15,000 Herero survived.
The German government has so far refused to apologize for the killings.