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North Korea missile launches test Trump’s resolve – National

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North Korea missile launches test Trump’s resolve National

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North Korea appears to have tested a new short-range missile – and President Donald Trump’s resolve to keep it from doing more of the same in the future.

The test early Saturday was quickly played down by Trump and his top advisers, who noted it was not the kind of long-range missile leader Kim Jong Un has refrained from launching since 2017.

READ MORE: Trump insists ‘deal will happen’ after projectiles reportedly fired off of North Korea’s coast

But the sudden activity on the North’s east coast, complete with fiery photos of a purported bull’s eye out to sea, alarmed Washington’s regional allies and suggests that Kim’s missiles are improving even as the Trump administration wrestles with how to get him back to the negotiating table.

Kim personally supervised the test of what experts believe was a short-range ballistic missile first displayed by the North at a military parade early last year, along with a drill involving 240 millimeter- and 300 millimeter-calibre multiple rocket launchers.

There remains some uncertainty over what was tested.

READ MORE: Kim Jong Un oversees missile firing drills, tells troops to keep ‘high alert posture’: State media

South Korea’s military reported that various “projectiles” flew from 70 to 240 kilometres (44 to 149 miles) before splashing harmlessly into the Pacific. The activity prompted the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan to tweet on its official account – in all capital letters – “MISSILE INBOUND.”

The tweet was soon followed by an all clear, and an “enjoy your Saturday.”

Trump moved quickly to minimize the significance of the test on his efforts to strike a nuclear deal with North Korea, tweeting that Kim “knows that I am with him & does not want to break his promise to me.”

WATCH: Trump, Putin discuss nuclear agreements, North Korea, Venezuela





Both leaders continue to claim they have a good personal relationship.

But tensions have grown since they failed to make any deals during their most recent summit, in Hanoi in February. Kim and senior North Korean officials have since expressed open frustration with what Pyongyang claims is an inflexible and unrealistic posture at talks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Kim suggested last month that he intends to give Washington until the end of the year to change its negotiating strategy. If it doesn’t, he has warned, he will seek a different path.

READ MORE: North Korea wants Mike Pompeo out of nuclear talks, wants someone more ‘mature’: state media





 

His position has created a dilemma for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has tried to act as a middleman. Seoul called an emergency meeting Saturday of top officials at its presidential Blue House and urged North Korea to stop committing acts that would raise military tensions.

But such calls ring hollow in Pyongyang since the South has decided to go ahead with joint military exercises with the U.S. that Pyongyang sees as provocative. The North strongly condemned a drill of a South Korea-based THAAD air-defence system by U.S. troops just two weeks ago.

The North’s missile test also came just days after the United States tested its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Base in California. Though such launches are planned well in advance and not directed at any specific country, they are seen by North Korea as highly provocative.

READ MORE: North Korea ready to denuclearize if security guarantees are met, Putin says after summit

North Korea last conducted a major missile test in November 2017 when it flight-tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that demonstrated the potential capability to reach deep into the U.S. mainland.

During the diplomacy that followed those weapons tests, Kim said the North would not test nuclear devices or ICBMs. The latest missile, which the North’s media referred to only as a “tactical guided weapon,” fell well below that threshold.

WATCH: North Korea tests new ‘tactical guided’ weapon (April, 2019)





It is believed to be modeled after Russia’s 9K720 Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile system. The solid-fuel missile, first revealed in a military parade in Pyongyang in February last year, is designed to be manoeuvrable during flight to boost its accuracy and thwart interception.

Experts noted that despite its physical resemblance, the North Korean missile may be a less capable version of the Russian Iskander, which can carry a nuclear warhead and strike targets as far away as 500 kilometres (310 miles).

A less capable version is still a clear danger to U.S. allies and American troops stationed in the region.

The distance between Wonsan, where the launch was held, and the South Korean capital of Seoul is roughly 200 kilometres (124 miles). More than 20,000 U.S. troops are based in the South and another 50,000 in Japan. All are within range of the North’s short- or medium-range missile arsenal.

North Korea’s state-run media had a propaganda heyday with the launch.

WATCH: Kim Jong Un says North Korea needs to deliver a ‘blow’ against sanctioning countries — economically





The ruling party newspaper showed Kim supervising the drill from a camouflaged tent with a desk and computer screens monitoring a rocky offshore outcropping that was used as a target. One photo has him smiling broadly while a screen shows the top of the crag enveloped in a ball of flames.

It also showed the missile rising from a mobile launcher and stressed how the drill was “organized without an advance notice” to underscore the need for realistic combat readiness.

North Korea’s coverage of the developments over the past year presents a sharp contrast to the focus outside of the country on denuclearization.

The North’s media has centred its attention on the portrayal of Kim as a strong leader on the global stage seeking to free the country of what the North calls unjustified sanctions so that it can develop its economy. Denuclearization is almost never the main topic of its reports.

That was the official message yet again on Sunday.

In its report on the drills, the state media stressed the need for the military to be on high alert to “defend the political sovereignty and economic self-sustenance of the country … bearing in mind the iron truth that genuine peace and security are ensured and guaranteed only by powerful strength.”



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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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