UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Syria’s foreign minister claimed Monday that his government is fighting a war against al-Qaida-linked militants who eat human hearts and dismember people while they are still alive, then send their limbs to family members.
Walid al-Moallem, addressing world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, also charged that the U.S., Britain and France had blocked the naming of the real perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, which he blamed on the opposition.
President Barack Obama told the same forum last week that it was the President Bashar Assad’s regime that was behind a chemical weapons attack in August that killed hundreds in the Damascus suburbs and brought threats of a retaliatory U.S. strike.
After the U.S. threatened to attack Syria, the Assad regime committed to getting rid of its stockpiles of chemical weapons. The U.N. Security Council then voted unanimously on Friday to oblige it to do so based on a plan made by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The resolution broke 2-1/2 years of paralysis on the Syria conflict in the Security Council.
(Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama on Friday that the crisis in Syria should not be resolved through a military strike and urged him to consider a political solution, state news agency Xinhua said.
Xi’s are the highest-level comments from China since an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria. They follow remarks by a foreign ministry spokesman, who urged a role for the U.N. Security Council in resolving the crisis after the United States said it had given up trying to work with the council on Syria.
“A political solution is the only right way out for the Syrian crisis, and a military strike cannot solve the problem from the root,” Xinhua quoted Xi as telling Obama on the sidelines of a G20 summit in St. Petersburg in Russia.
“We expect certain countries to have a second thought before action.”
When Assad moved armor into the Golan on Thursday, Israel warned it would ‘take action,’ UN document reveals
A fierce battle last week between the Syrian army and rebels over the city of Quneitra, near the Israeli border on the Syrian Golan Heights, nearly brought Israel and Syria into open confrontation, according to a UN document leaked on Saturday by US-based blogger Nabil Abi Saab.
During the battle over Quneitra on Thursday, June 6, the Syrian army moved five tanks and five armored personnel carriers into the demilitarized zone separating Syria and Israel, in an effort to remove rebel forces that had taken over the Syrian-Israel border crossing, according to the document, dated the same day and presented to the UN Security Council by Herve Ladsous, UN under secretary general for peacekeeping operations.
VIENNA — North Korea’s third nuclear test and threats of military action are “completely unacceptable”, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in remarks published on Saturday, urging Pyongyang to feed its people and seek peace with South Korea.
North Korea threatened the United States on Thursday with a pre-emptive nuclear strike and has scrapped the armistice with Washington that ended hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War.
That followed its third nuclear test on February 12, in defiance of U.N. resolutions, drawing further U.N. Security Council sanctions against the reclusive East Asian state.
Asked by Austria’s Profil magazine about North Korea’s nuclear test, military exercises and threats, Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said: “I find this completely unacceptable and it is also a challenge for the international community.”
He said in an interview with Profil that he had urged the North Korean leadership to focus on the welfare of its own people in the face of serious economic problems.
“There is a serious humanitarian crisis in North Korea. Many people suffer from malnutrition,” he said, calling for dialogue and peaceful exchanges with South Korea.
“(South) Korea has just elected a new president. That would be good timing for the leadership of the two parties to the conflict to discuss seriously how to encourage national reconciliation and to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula, also in view of a possible reunification of the country.”
North Korea formally rejected a U.N. Security Council resolution on Saturday demanding an end to its nuclear arms program and China called for calm, saying sanctions were not the “fundamental” way to resolve tensions.
Pyongyang said it would pursue its goal of becoming a full-fledged nuclear weapons state, despite the sanctions which were unanimously imposed on Friday by the Security Council.
Turning to a separate dispute, Ban said he had urged Iran to address international concerns that its nuclear program could have a military dimension, something Tehran denies.
Ban said he found it positive that talks between Iran and world powers in Kazakhstan last week had produced an agreement to meet again, first at an expert level.
“But I have made it clear to the leadership in Iran that the Iranian government must do everything possible to convince the international community and to establish confidence about the nuclear program,” he said.
“There are still concerns about whether the nuclear program is really only for peaceful purposes. I told Foreign Minister (Ali Akbar) Salehi that it is the responsibility of Iran to restore trust about it.”
The two met in Vienna last week at a U.N. conference.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
North Korea has threatened to exercise its right to stage pre-emptive nuclear attack against anyone who threatens them, with state media warning of a “thermonuclear war”.
A spokesman for Pyongyang’s Foreign Ministry said the North will exercise its right for “pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the headquarters of the aggressors” because Washington is pushing to start a nuclear war against the North.
“Now that the US is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, (our) revolutionary armed forces… will exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Separately, state media warned of a “thermonuclear war”.
Following Tuesday’s announcement by the military that it would rip up the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War, the North Korean ruling party’s official mouthpiece, Rodong Sinmun, warned of an imminent conflict.
“With the armistice nullified, it would be no surprise if a global thermonuclear war breaks out,” the newspaper said.
Although North Korea boasts of nuclear bombs and pre-emptive strikes, it is not thought to have mastered the ability to produce a warhead small enough to put on a missile capable of reaching the US. It is believed to have enough nuclear fuel, however, for a handful of crude nuclear devices.
Such inflammatory rhetoric is common from North Korea, but it has been coming regularly in recent days. North Korea is angry over the possible sanctions and over forthcoming US-South Korean military drills.
The UN Security Council is set to impose a fourth round of sanctions against Pyongyang in a fresh attempt to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current council president, said the council will vote on the draft sanctions resolution Thursday morning.
The resolution was drafted by the United States and China, North Korea’s closest ally. The council’s agreement to put the resolution to a vote just 48 hours later signalled that it would almost certainly have the support of all 15 council members.
The statement by the North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman was carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
It accused the US of leading efforts to slap sanctions on North Korea. The statement said the new sanctions would only advance the timing for North Korea to fulfil previous vows of taking “powerful second and third countermeasures” against its enemies. Those measures haven’t been specifically elaborated on.
“We gravely warn that at a time when we cannot avoid a second Korean War, the U.N. Security Council, which served as the U.S. puppet in 1950 and made Korean people harbour eternal grudges against it, must not commit the same crime again,” it said.
North Korea in the statement demanded the UN Security Council immediately dismantle the American-led U.N. Command that’s based in Seoul and move to end the state of war that exists on the Korean Peninsula, which continues six decades after fighting stopped because an armistice, not a peace treaty, ended the war.