The emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, warned of the collapse of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – an alliance of Gulf countries – should the crisis with Qatar remain unresolved. In a statement at a Kuwaiti parliament session on Tuesday, the emir warned GCC leaders of the potential dangerous military and political intervention that may ensue as a result of the political deadlock. The GCC is a political and economic alliance of countries in the Arabian peninsula, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Established in 1981, the alliance fosters economic, security, cultural and social cooperation between the six nations. But the fate of the GCC has been thrown into question as a result of the deep rift caused by a land, air and sea blockade imposed on Qatar by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt on June 5. Sheikh Sabah stressed that Kuwait’s mediation efforts should be seen through the lens of the family of Gulf nations: “We are not a third party in this crisis. Rather, we are a party of one with the other two brother-nations in this crisis”. He warned that the collapse of the GCC would mean the collapse of the last bastion of joint Arab cooperation, noting that his country’s goal was to resolve the crisis and prevent the GCC from collapse.
With the world already fretting about North Korea unleashing a nuclear war, what with its sophisticated hydrogen bombs and other nuclear weapons – another fear has now gripped the region. According to a latest report, the reclusive nation led by Kim Jong Un is now mass producing deadly batches of biological weapons that could kill tens of thousands of people. A report by the Belfer Centre of Harvard University’s Kennedy School has revealed that North Korea is “mass producing deadly batches of smallpox and the plague.” The report stated that the dictator is harvesting agents such as plague, anthrax and cholera. The report quotes the South Korean Defense Ministry as saying, “North Korea has 13 types of biological weapons agents which it can weaponize within ten days, and anthrax and smallpox are the likely agents it would deploy”. It goes on to reveal, “Agents like anthrax could cause mass casualties with a small amount: only a few kilograms of anthrax, equivalent to a few bottles of wine, released into a dense city could kill 50 percent of the population. If used on a large scale, these weapons can cause not only tens of thousands of deaths, but also create panic and paralyze societies”. On Monday, as the report was revealed, North Korea yet again took a potshot at the U.S. President Donald Trump, calling him a “hooligan” and a “lunatic with his finger over a nuclear button.”A statement by the North Korean government quoted in the KNCA said, “Dignitaries of White House, and State and Defense Departments of the U.S. are having a hard time cooling Trump overheated with a war fever, but only the South Korean puppet forces are fanning up the lunatic fingering a nuclear button. What is ridiculous is the puppet forces’ poor plight of being treated as a street girl even though they play the coquette with the U.S. and serve it with devotion”.
China’s fuel imports and exports to North Korea dropped significantly in September from a year earlier, the latest data shows. Figures from Chinese customs show China imported 511,619 tonnes of coal from North Korea during the month, down 71.6 per cent from the year before. Meanwhile, it exported 90 tonnes of petrol to the country, down 99.6 per cent, and 16 tonnes of diesel, a drop of 91.8 per cent. The release of the figures on Tuesday comes at a sensitive time in Sino-US relations, with US President Donald Trump expected to visit China next month. US officials said Trump would use the trip to pressure Beijing to exert greater influence on North Korea, however, any such efforts could backfire. Some observers said Beijing would resist pressure and respond by telling Trump to stop threatening Pyongyang with military force. Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at the Renmin University in Beijing, said China had almost exhausted what it could do regarding sanctions on North Korea and had limited choices if Trump were still unsatisfied. “Compared to the past, China now cannot recede a lot regarding the North Korea issue. Beijing might [move a bit on trade] to please Washington, aiming to ease China-US frictions”. Sun Xingjie, a North Korean affairs expert from Jilin University, said Beijing had no other options to sanction North Korea, barring a full oil embargo – a move that would risk angering the regime of Kim Jong-un and might even bring the whole region to war. “Beijing and Washington have completely different solutions to the North Korea issue, but what Washington has called for might not be suitable for Beijing, especially the military options”, Sun said. “Cooperation on the North Korea issue might not be the central theme during the talks, rather, it’s the differences that will be heatedly discussed. Beijing will ask Trump not to threaten the Kim regime with military options and try to persuade Trump back to the negotiating table”, Shi said.
Connectivity of China with South Asia under the Belt and Road Initiative can only make a better Asia, experts said here on Tuesday. Addressing a two-day seminar entitled International Conference on South Asia – China connectivity for Regional Economic Social Development, which was organized by Kathmandu School of Law (KSL), experts stressed on finding the common grounds and visions for partnership between South Asian nations and China. “South Asia is geographically connected but psychologically divided. All the South Asian countries including India should move ahead together with China to realize the dream of creating the Asian Century”, Dr. Yubaraj Sangroula, head of the KSL said in the inaugural ceremony. The China- proposed Belt and Road Initiative has created new hopes in the whole region, an academician from Bangladesh, Zakir Hossain, said in his speech. “It is not just about connectivity of roads or seas but connectivity of economies which can improve the lives of people of the whole region”, said Hossain, the former dean of Bangladesh’s Chittagong University. Muhammad Amir Rana, director at Pakistan’s Pak Institute of Peace Studies, said South Asian nations should learn how China transformed its economy. “China’s success story can lead other nations to reform or modernize the economy. We should follow their vision of change to achieve socio-economic development. On the occasion, Prof. Chen Xiaochen of China’s Renmin University said the Belt and Road Initiative is all about common development through international cooperation. “Cooperation is the major need today which can fill the gap of development in the world”.
Kosovo Minister of European Integration, Dhurata Hoxha has met with the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn to discuss Kosovo’s integration agenda.On this occasion, minister Hoxha noted the progress made in many areas in Kosovo, including the rule of law, economic development, and good neighborliness.Hoxha has also asked for Commissioner Hahn’s support, especially in the field of economic development with special emphasis on helping young entrepreneurs, a step which according to her, would impact on job creation in the country.Hahn, on the other hand, has reiterated his stance on the European perspective of Kosovo. He emphasized the importance of implementing the European Agenda for Reform and the implementation of the SAA.Hahn also confirmed the support for Kosovo and its European perspective as well as for Minister Hoxha in the efforts to streamline the integration process.
Former US president Jimmy Carter says he has offered to go to North Korea on behalf of the White House to try to allay rising tensions, but has not been asked, The New York Times reported on Sunday. Carter told the Times in an interview at his home when asked if he would go on such a trip for the Donald Trump administration. In recent months President Trump has engaged in an escalating war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, trading personal insults and threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatens the United States. Carter told the Times he is “afraid, too, of a situation”. “I don’t know what they’ll do”, he said of the North Koreans. “Because they want to save their regime”. “I think he’s now got advanced nuclear weaponry that can destroy the Korean Peninsula and Japan, and some of our outlying territories in the Pacific, maybe even our mainland”, Carter said. In recent months, the North has conducted a series of missile launches and its sixth nuclear test, its most powerful yet, in defiance of multiple rounds of UN sanctions.
The Yemeni government announced that it had seized an Iranian ship carrying 19 sailors off the coast of the Socotra archipelago, east of the country. He explained that “the ship was caught by fishermen on the island of Abdul Kuri, one of the islands of Socotra archipelago”. According to Saba News Agency, Yemen’s Council of Ministers held a meeting chaired by bin Daghr in the city of Aden where the seizure of the ship and the investigation into its cargo and source of supply were discussed. The news coincided with renewed accusations against Iran of transferring weapons to its Houthi militia allies across the Yemeni coasts, and the announcement by the US administration of the government’s support to meet these challenges. There was no immediate comment from the Iranian authorities on the seizure of the ship on Saturday.
China on Monday defended its growing trade with North Korea saying it was permitted under UN Security Council sanctions that state they should avoid hurting “humanitarian needs”. China, as the restive state’s main trading partner, “strictly implements” sanctions aimed at stopping its pursuit of nuclear and missile technology, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. According to Chinese customs data, its exports to North Korea rose 31.4 per cent in August from a year earlier, while imports fell 9.5 per cent. Beijing pointed out that the sanctions did not prohibit food sales and argued against measures that might harm the North Korean public. Beijing also has cut into Pyongyang’s foreign revenue by ordering North Korean-owned restaurants and other businesses and ventures with Chinese partners to close. “The Security Council pointed out that the relevant resolutions should not inflict negative impacts on the livelihood and humanitarian needs of North Korea”, Geng said at a regular briefing. One of five permanent Security Council members with veto power over UN actions, China does not want to push North Korea too hard out of fear Kim’s government might collapse.
China has revised regulations on administrative procedures to make it easier for businesses to gain government approvals in the latest effort to invigorate the market. Altogether 35 clauses in 15 administrative laws and regulations would be amended to eliminate approval requirements and enable the government to strengthen oversight after the removal, according to a State Council decree signed by Premier Li Keqiang. Through the revision, China has annulled 20 administrative approvals including requirements to gain permission for temporary tour guide certificates and lightning-protection business qualifications. The new regulations went into effect on Monday, allowing authorities greater power to supervise related activities after the approvals were canceled. In China, administrative approvals to conduct businesses and access public services usually involve drawn-out and redundant procedures. To simplify the procedures and reduce burdens on businesses and individuals, the government is committed to redistributing authority or eliminating excess requirements. Over the past five years, China has made big strides in creating a better business environment for both domestic and overseas companies. Through simpler approval processes, lower corporate fees and technology-based services, the government is transforming its functions to let the market play a larger role in the economy.
The 2018 budget and the fiscal package that will accompany it will go to the cabinet for approval this week. During the coming year, the government forecasts total revenues in the state coffers to reach 464,292 million lek, increasing by 6.4 percent compared to this year. According to the preliminary draft of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, public expenditùres accoùnt for aboùt 499,389 million lek with a 5.7 percent increase. The voice that has the highest expenditùre growth is that of capital spending. For 2018, capital expenditures accoùnt for 77,665 million lek, most of which go for roads construction. This is just 5.2 percent of national production, ùp from 4.8 this year.Inthe first week of November, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Council of Ministers, submits the annual draft budget to the parliament. The draft of the annual budget is expected to be approved by the Parliament by 20 December.